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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On March 9, 2018, as a first step in developing a proposed rule regulating certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking nominations for individuals who represent small businesses, small governments, and small non-for-profit organizations to serve as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide input on potential impacts of PBT regulation.  EPA states the role of a SER is “to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that the Panel carefully considers small entity concerns regarding the impact of the potential rule on their organizations and to communicate with other small entities within their sector who do not serve as SERs,” and will ask the SERs to provide comments on behalf of their company, community, or organization and advise a soon to be created Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel regarding potential impacts to small businesses that could result from the regulation of certain identified PBTs.  The SBAR panel will include federal representatives from EPA, the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  After collecting input from the small entities, the panel will make recommendations to the Agency on the development of a proposed rule to regulate these PBT chemicals.

Under Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA is required, not later than three years after the date of enactment (June 22, 2019), to propose rules regarding the regulation of certain PBTs selected from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments that:  (1) EPA has a reasonable basis to conclude are toxic and that with respect to persistence and bioaccumulation score high for one and either high or moderate for the other have been identified; and (2) exposure to which under the conditions of use is likely to the general population or to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation identified by the Administrator, or the environment, on the basis of an exposure and use assessment conducted by the Administrator.  The PBT chemicals that EPA has selected are:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics, wiring insulation, and building and construction materials;
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used as a solvent in the manufacture of rubber compounds and as hydraulic, heat transfer or transformer fluid;
  • Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP), used as a mercaptan (sulfur) cross-linking agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
  • Phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1), used as a flame retardant in consumer products and as lubricant, hydraulic fluid, and other industrial uses; and
  •  2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl) phenol, an antioxidant that can be used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive. 

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to establish a SBAR panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.  EPA states that the panel process will offer “an opportunity for small businesses, small governments and small not-for-profit organizations … to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that the EPA carefully considers small entity concerns regarding the impact of the potential rule on their organizations.” 

EPA states eligible SERs are small entities that manufacture, process, distribute in commerce, use, or dispose any of the five selected PBT chemicals.  EPA is seeking self-nominations directly from entities that may be subject to the rule requirements. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.  Self-nominations may be submitted through the instructions outlined on EPA’s Potential SBAR Panel website and must be received by March 22, 2018.  More information about the SBAR process is available online. 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register a notice of its final determination on whether revision to the current size standards for small manufacturers and processors, which are used in connection with reporting regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a), is warranted.

The notice states that EPA has made its final determination that revision is warranted based upon three factors, listed below.

  1. Its preliminary determination.  EPA states in the notice that it preliminarily determined that a revision to the size standards is warranted “because of the magnitude of the increase in the [Producer Price Index (PPI)] since the last revision of the size standards and because the current annual sales standard is comparatively low given current revenue-based size standards developed by [the Small Business Administration (SBA)].”  When EPA reviewed the change in the PPI for Chemicals and Allied Products between 1988 and 2015 it found that the PPI has changed by 129 percent, which far exceeds the 20 percent inflation index specified as a level above which EPA may adjust annual sales levels in the current standard if deemed necessary. 
  2. A review of the comments on the preliminary determination.  EPA states that most commenters agreed with its preliminary determination that an update is warranted and several also provided their opinions on how the standards should be revised.  EPA states the actual changes to the standards were out of the scope of this determination, but it will address those issues in the subsequent proposed rulemaking.
  3. Feedback from consultation with the SBA.  SBA’s Office of Advocacy substantively agreed with EPA’s preliminary determination (that a revision to the current size standards is warranted), but it had requested EPA to consider additional factors in reaching that conclusion which EPA did not.  Specifically, the SBA wanted EPA to consider whether the standard is structured appropriately, and wanted EPA evaluate a broader set of factors related to firm and industry characteristics and percentage of firms impacted by Section 8 rules.

More information on these standards is available on our blog item under key phrase size standards.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On May 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a notice stating that it was reopening the comment period regarding whether revision to the current size standards for small manufacturers and processors, which are used in connection with reporting regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a), is warranted.  82 Fed. Reg. 21542.  EPA is opening the comment period for another 15 days, until May 24, 2017, to provide adequate opportunity for the public to consider the results of EPA’s consultation with the Small Business Administration (SBA).  EPA’s initial request for comments was published on December 15, 2016, and comments on its initial notice were due by January 17, 2017. 

The reopening of the comment period allows for public review and comment on EPA’s December 7, 2016, consultation request to the SBA on the adequacy of the current standards, as well as the SBA Administrator’s April 5, 2017, feedback on EPA’s consultation request.  In the notice, EPA states that it had intended to add SBA’s response to the docket to give the public an opportunity to review the response to inform their comments on EPA’s preliminary determination; EPA is providing that opportunity now.