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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On October 5, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the general approaches that the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) may use to identify potential candidate chemicals for prioritization under TSCA.  83 Fed. Reg. 50366.  EPA notes that it will seek public comment on the approach document and on which chemicals should be identified as potential candidates for the initial 20 high-priority and 20 low-priority chemicals that must be identified pursuant to TSCA Section 6(b)(2)(B).  Comments are due by November 15, 2018

The document, A Working Approach for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization, lays out EPA’s thinking regarding a near-term approach for identifying potential chemicals for prioritization, the initial step in evaluating the safety of existing chemicals under TSCA.  The approach document also includes a longer-term risk-based strategy for managing the larger TSCA chemical landscape that, according to the portion of the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory (Inventory) that includes the substances designated as active (TSCA Active Inventory), is expected to include over 38,000 chemicals reported as “active” under the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements final rule.  More information is available in our memorandum “EPA Releases Working Approach for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization under TSCA.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 28, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was releasing the approach it will use to identify chemicals that could be included in the next group of risk evaluations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) titled “A Working Approach for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization” (Working Approach).  EPA states that the information set forth in this document is “intended to describe the general approaches EPA may consider to identify existing chemicals as potential candidates for prioritization,” and the ultimate goal of these approaches “is to identify potential candidates from which EPA will select candidates for prioritization, consistent with its regulations at 40 C.F.R. § 702.5.” 

EPA also released the pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice of availability of the Working Approach and “A Summary of Public Comments By Topic” (Summary).  The pre-publication notice states that EPA will be opening a public docket to accept comments on the Working Approach until November 15, 2018.  These comments will inform a public meeting to be held in early 2019.  Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will open 74 chemical-specific public dockets, one for each of the 73 remaining chemicals on the 2014 Update to the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments that have not received manufacturer requests for EPA evaluation and an additional general docket for chemicals not on the Work Plan.  These dockets will be open until December 1, 2019.  A link to the list of these dockets is available here

More information on TSCA implementation is available on our website under key phrase Lautenberg Implementation


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On January 5, 2018, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a Petition for Review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Second Circuit) of what is characterized as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “final rule” issued November 7, 2017, entitled “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.”  The Framework Document, as it has come to be called, is the “final rule” at issue and was posted in EPA’s docket opened for comments related to its two Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) public meetings that took place in December. It is reasonable to assume that the Framework Document is not referred to by EPA as a final rule and was not published in the Federal Register as a final rule because EPA believes it is a document that outlines a conceptual approach to how EPA may go about making decisions on new chemicals.  EPA specifically states the document, referred to as a “draft” in the Federal Register notice that announced the two public meetings, “outlines EPA’s approach to making decisions on new chemical notices submitted to EPA under TSCA section 5, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” and includes EPA’s “general decision framework for new chemicals” and a breakdown of how EPA “intends to approach each of the five types of new-chemical determinations required under the statute.” 

The citizen action petition raises novel and interesting legal questions, and is quite different from the other petitions for review, one for each framework final rule, that are  pending. Whether the newest legal challenge will survive procedural motions that EPA can be expected to file to dismiss the action remains to be seen. More information on the framework rule petitions for review is available on our blog under key phrases framework rules and petition for review


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 11, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) convened its public meeting on possible approaches for identifying potential candidates for prioritization under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Key presenters were Jeffery Morris, Ph.D., Directory of OPPT, as well as several other OPPT staff, Health Canada (HC) and Environmental and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Russell S. Thomas with EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD).

The presentations from the meeting are listed below and available on EPA's website:

Nancy Beck, Ph.D. opened the workshop by welcoming attendees and provided some overview remarks.  Dr. Beck noted that the workshop could result in more than one approach being considered, or could result in no process being adopted.  Dr. Beck explained why EPA does not wish to prioritize chemicals with poor datasets.  Unless EPA has sufficient information to conclude there is no unreasonable risk, EPA must proceed with risk evaluations within the specified timelines with increased uncertainties.  This will result in a risk management process that has numerous default assumptions and uncertainty that will be difficult to defend.  Such risk management results will likely be subject to litigation, which will be costly in terms of time and resources to both EPA and the stakeholders. 

Dr. Morris stated that EPA hopes to implement a pre-prioritization approach by June 2018 to help ensure prioritization can begin in December 2018.

In its review of potential adjustments to the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments (TSCA Work Plan) approach, EPA staff clarified that there would be no changes to the current TSCA Work Plan chemical list last updated in 2014.  It was suggested that EPA could rely on the current TSCA Work Plan approach as an interim method for pre-prioritization as EPA works to refine other approaches.  EPA acknowledged that neither the current TSCA Work Plan approach nor the SCIL process included screens for certain criteria articulated in the amended TSCA legislation, including storage near significant sources of drinking water. 

Based on comments by presenters at the workshop and references in EPA documentation, it appears that chemical substances of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products and biological materials (UVCB) will be difficult to screen in the pre-prioritization approaches reviewed.

In response to EPA’s comment that active substances will be the starting point for pre-prioritization screening, one non-governmental organization (NGO) group raised concerns with legacy issues that might be associated with inactive substances (e.g., substances contained in products or materials that have been in use for years).  NGO groups also commented that the hurdle for identifying a high priority chemical should be relatively low; whereas the hurdle for identifying a low priority chemical should be very high and could potentially include a required minimum data set.

All stakeholders expressed appreciation to EPA for the presentations and the various approaches reviewed.  During the public comments, there did not appear to be specific support for any one approach. 

We note that none of the approaches included specifics as to how EPA would assess whether the chemical being reviewed had sufficient data available to initiate prioritization and potential risk evaluation.  Given EPA’s clear objective to avoid having data-poor chemicals being prioritized, this issue needs to be clearly and definitively addressed in EPA’s practices.  Nor was there consideration as to how other governmental regulatory assessments could be incorporated into a pre-prioritization approach.

EPA will be accepting comments on the approach to prioritizing chemicals until January 25, 2018, in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0586.  More information on the December 6, 2017, public meeting on EPA’s new chemicals review program is available in our blog under key phrase public meeting.  


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On December 11, 2017, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit) case on the petition for review of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA (Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments v. EPA, Case Nos. 17-1926, 17-2040, and 17-2244 (consolidated)), the Fourth Circuit granted the petitioners’ motions to transfer to the Ninth Circuit.  This was not entirely unexpected, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) recently denied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA or respondent) motions to transfer to the Ninth Circuit the consolidated cases on the petition for review of one of the other TSCA framework rules, Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation (Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families v. EPA, Case Nos. 17-72260, 17-72501, and 17-72968 (consolidated)) to the Fourth Circuit.  Now both of these cases will be decided in the Ninth Circuit.  In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case on the petition for review of the TSCA framework rule TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements (EDF v. EPA, Case No. 17-1201), neither the petitioner or the respondents have moved to transfer this case so it will in all likelihood stay in the D.C. Circuit.

More information on these petitions for review is available on our blog under key phrases framework rules and petition for review.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 27, 2017, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) case on the petition for review of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation (Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families v. EPA, Case Nos. 17-72260, 17-72501, and 17-72968 (consolidated)), the Ninth Circuit issued an order on several pending motions.  It granted the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) (and other industry groups) motion to intervene on behalf of respondent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); denied the respondents’ motions to transfer Case Nos. 17-72260 and 17-72501 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit); denied respondents’ requests to hold Case Nos. 17-72260 and 17-72501 in abeyance; granted the motions to consolidate Case Nos. 17-72260, 17-72501, and 17-72968; and set an amended briefing schedule.  The consolidated opening brief is now due January 23, 2018; the consolidated answering brief and the intervenors’ brief are due February 22, 2018; and the optional reply brief is due within 21 days after service of the answering and intervenors’ briefs.

In the Fourth Circuit case on the petition for review of the TSCA framework rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA (Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments v. EPA, Case Nos. 17-1926, 17-2040, and 17-2244 (consolidated)), the petitioners’ motions to transfer to the Ninth Circuit are still pending; on November 21, 2017, the Fourth Circuit deferred the ruling until the Ninth Circuit ruled on its own pending motions to transfer.  As the Ninth Circuit has now denied the motions to transfer (per above), the Fourth Circuit will soon make a decision about whether this case should also be heard by the Ninth Circuit.  A new briefing schedule has not been set.

In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case on the petition for review of the TSCA framework rule TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements (EDF v. EPA, Case No. 17-1201), there are no current delays due to transfers or consolidations.  Respondent EPA filed a motion to extend time to file its brief on November 7, 2017; petitioner Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed its statement of intent regarding appendix deferral on November 8, 2017, and filed its initial submissions including the statement of issues on November 8-9, 2017; and respondent EPA filed the certified index to the record on November 27, 2017.  ACC and other industry groups were granted leave to intervene on behalf of respondent EPA on November 13, 2017.  The briefing schedule has not been set. 

More information on these petitions for review is available on our blog under key phrases framework rules and petition for review.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 14, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the agenda and meeting materials for its December 11, 2017, Approaches for Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for Existing Chemical Risk Evaluations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) meeting.  EPA states that during this meeting, it will describe goals, guiding principles, and possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemicals for prioritization; and take comment on possible approaches.  Under amended TSCA, EPA is required to establish processes for prioritizing and evaluating risks from existing chemicals.  The meeting materials include:

  • Agenda for Public Meeting.  The Agenda includes the following topics:  identifying potential candidates for prioritization:  background, goal, guiding principles, and milestones; overview of TSCA Work Plan methodology; TSCA Work Plan as a tool for identifying potential candidates; Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan; EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List; Functional Category Approach, based on use and exposure potential; Functional Category Approach, based on chemical structure and function; and systematic integration of traditional and new approaches.  Featured speakers are Nancy Beck, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OSCPP) and Jeff Morris, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT). 
  • Discussion Document -- Possible Approaches and Tools for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization.  EPA states that the discussion document introduces a set of approaches that it is considering to help guide the identification of potential candidates for prioritization, and is intended to be a starting point for a dialogue with stakeholders on best practices for EPA’s activities during this phase.  EPA is asking for input on the approaches presented here, as well as any additional recommendations.

The December 11, 2017, meeting will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C., and will be available by remote access for registered participants.  Online requests to participate must be received on or before December 5, 2017.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0586 on www.regulations.gov with a copy to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)Registration for this meeting is available online.  In addition to hearing oral comments at the meeting, EPA is also accepting written comments and materials submitted to the docket for this meeting until January 25, 2018.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 6, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to publish a notice in the Federal Register in which it will announce two meetings to discuss implementation activities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 20th Century Act, as well as request public comments.  The meetings are:

  • New Chemicals Review Program Implementation Meeting:  December 6, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST).  EPA’s first meeting will update and engage with the public on EPA’s progress in implementing changes to the New Chemicals Review Program as a result of the 2016 amendments to TSCA, and will include a discussion of EPA’s draft New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework.  EPA will describe its review process for new chemical substances under the amended statute and interested parties will have the opportunity to provide input and to ask questions.  EPA states it plans to utilize the feedback it receives from the public meeting and comments received to improve policy and processes relating to the review of new chemicals under TSCA.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0585 on www.regulations.govRegistration for this meeting is available online.
  • Approaches for Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for Existing Chemical Risk Evaluations Meeting:  December 11, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST).  EPA’s second meeting will focus on possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemical substances for EPA’s prioritization process under TSCA.  As amended, TSCA required that EPA establish processes for prioritizing and evaluating risks from existing chemical substances.  EPA will describe and take comment on a number of possible approaches that could guide it in the identification of potential candidate chemical substances.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0586 on www.regulations.govRegistration for this meeting is available online.

Online requests to participate in either meeting must be received on or before December 5, 2017.  Both meetings will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C., and will be available by remote access for registered participants. EPA states that more information on the specifics of the meetings will be made available in the dockets and on EPA’s website prior to the meeting.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 25, 2017, Petitioners Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) (collectively Petitioners) in Ninth Circuit Case Nos. 17-72260 and 17-72501 (regarding review of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation) filed a joint opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion to transfer to the Fourth Circuit and hold cases in abeyance.  On September 14, 2017, EPA filed a motion for these Ninth Circuit cases to be moved to the Fourth Circuit where there is currently another challenge to a TSCA framework rule (Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. v. EPA, Case Nos. 17-1926, et al.; Petition for Review of Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA).  Petitioners oppose EPA’s request for the case to be moved to the Fourth Circuit, stating that “Congress expressly gave Petitioners the right to select a forum” and “eleven of the fifteen Petitioners elected to file their petition in [the Ninth Circuit] … now believe that both sets of petitions should be consolidated in this Court.”  The Motion to Intervene of American Chemistry Council, et al. on EPA’s behalf is still pending.  On September 25, 2017, EPA filed a response to the motion to intervene stating that they took no position on it.  The Petitioner’s briefs in both cases are still due October 30, 2017.

On September 28, 2017, in Fourth Circuit Case Nos. 17-1796, et al. (referenced above), the court granted the Motion to Intervene on EPA’s behalf of American Chemistry Council, et al.  A new briefing schedule has still not been set. 

On September 29, 2017, in D.C. Circuit Case No. 17-1201 (EDF v. EPA; Petition for Review of TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirement), EPA filed a motion to extend deadlines in scheduling order, stating that “in light of the potential for other parties to file additional petitions in this Court until October 24, 2017, the parties now jointly request that the Court extend all deadlines in the Court’s September 5, 2017, order by an additional 35 days.”  The court has not ruled on EPA’s request yet; if it denies it, the briefing schedule will begin on October 5, 2017.

More information on these petitions for review is available on our blog under key phrases framework rules and petition for review.   


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On August 10, 2017, and on August 11, 2017, petitions for review of two of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final “framework rules” issued under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) were filed in federal court.  These six lawsuits seek review of the final rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA and the final rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA.  The petitions were filed by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et al. on August 10, 2017 (Cases 17-72260 and 17-72259); the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. (including the Natural Resources Defense Council) on August 11, 2017 (Cases 17-1926 and 17-1927 (consolidated)); and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on August 11, 2017 (Cases 17-2464 and 17-2403), in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth, Fourth, and Second Circuits, respectively.  In the Ninth Circuit, the Petitioner’s Briefs are due October 30, 2017, and Respondent EPA’s briefs are due November 28, 2017; in the Fourth Circuit, the opening brief, record from agency, and the appendix are due September 20, 2017, and the response brief is due October 20, 2017; in the Second Circuit, a briefing schedule has not been posted yet. 

In its petitions for review, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et al. state that they challenge the rules as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law; in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations; and without observance of procedure required by law.” On the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ website, the organization states that the petitions allege the rules “fail to provide the protections against unsafe chemicals that Congress required in the critical priority-setting and risk evaluation provisions of the new law, which are intended to ensure that unreasonable risks to health and the environment are fully assessed and eliminated.”  In its petitions for review, EDF does not list any details as to why it is seeking review (nor do the rules require petitioners to do so), but on its website it states that “EPA has issued framework rules that violate the letter and intent of the law,” and that EDF has filed lawsuits challenging those rules and “will continue to monitor EPA’s actions to ensure EPA complies with the law and protects public health.”  The petitions for review filed by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. do not list any details as to why they are seeking review. 


 
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