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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On July 7, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report entitled “The EPA Was Not Transparent About Changes Made to a Long-Chain PFAS Rule After Administrator Signature.” OIG evaluated the extent to which EPA followed applicable policies, procedures, and guidance for the changes made to the long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances (LCPFAC) significant new use rule (SNUR) between the EPA Administrator’s signing of the final rule on June 22, 2020, and the publication of the final rule in the Federal Register on July 27, 2020. OIG states that it initiated the evaluation based on a Congressional request. OIG notes that the substances in question are types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are manufactured chemicals widely used in industry and consumer products. SNURs require that EPA be notified before regulated chemical substances are used in new ways that might cause environmental or human health concerns.
 
According to OIG, EPA did not follow all applicable policies, procedures, and guidance when making changes to the LCPFAC SNUR after the Administrator signed it and before it was published in the Federal Register. Specifically:

  • Although EPA identified changes made to the SNUR in a post-signature change memorandum, which was signed by the Administrator, as required by EPA’s Changes to Rule Documents Prepared for the Administrator’s Signature procedures, EPA did not docket that memorandum, as stipulated in EPA’s Creating and Managing Dockets: Frequently Asked Questions for EPA Action Developers guidance.
     
  • OIG states that because the request for changes was communicated via telephone, it could not identify the origin of the requested changes and could not determine whether EPA complied with the transparency provisions of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review.

OIG states that by not following all docketing procedures, EPA did not meet transparency expectations and risked compromising the public’s trust in the rulemaking process. OIG notes that EPA followed the Office of the Federal Register’s Document Drafting Handbook guidance for requesting changes to the final rule, however.
 
OIG recommends that the Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention update the LCPFAC SNUR docket by posting the post-signature change memorandum that outlines the changes made to the final rule after the Administrator signed it but before it was published in the Federal Register. OIG also makes two recommendations to the Associate Administrator for Policy, which include updating the applicable policies, procedures, and guidance regarding making changes to a regulatory action after it is submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review and before it is published in the Federal Register. OIG states that EPA agreed with its first two recommendations and provided acceptable corrective actions. The first recommendation is completed, and the second is resolved with corrective actions pending. EPA disagreed with OIG’s third recommendation, and it remains unresolved. More information on the LCPFAC SNUR is available in our July 27, 2020, memorandum.

Tags: OIG, PFAS, LCPFAC, SNUR,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) spring 2022 Unified Agenda, published on June 21, 2022, includes the following rulemakings under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

Proposed Rule Stage

  • Tiered Data Reporting to Inform Prioritization, Risk Evaluation, and Risk Management under TSCA (2070-AK62): EPA is developing a rulemaking under TSCA Sections 8(a) and (d) to establish reporting requirements based upon a chemical’s status in the Risk Evaluation/Risk Management (RE/RM) Lifecycle and update the reporting requirements under the 40 C.F.R. Part 711 Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) regulation. Specifically, EPA is seeking occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure information. EPA is developing this rule to obtain information about potential hazards and exposure pathways related to certain chemicals, particularly occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure information. According to the Unified Agenda item, EPA needs this information to inform prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management of chemical substances under TSCA Section 6. EPA intends to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in May 2023 and a final rule in September 2024. More information on EPA’s July 27, 2021, webinar on development of the proposed rule is available in our July 29, 2021, memorandum.
  • Revisions to the TSCA Fees Rule (2070-AK64): In January 2021, EPA proposed updates and adjustments to the 2018 TSCA fees rule. EPA proposed modifications to the TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years (FY) 2022, 2023, and 2024 and explained the methodology by which the proposed TSCA fees were determined. EPA proposed to add three new fee categories: A Bona Fide Intent to Manufacture or Import Notice, a Notice of Commencement of Manufacture or Import, and an additional fee associated with test orders. In addition, EPA proposed exemptions for entities subject to certain fee-triggering activities, including an exemption for research and development (R&D) activities; an exemption for entities manufacturing less than 2,500 pounds of a chemical subject to an EPA-initiated risk evaluation fee; an exemption for manufacturers of chemical substances produced as a non-isolated intermediate; and exemptions for manufacturers of a chemical substance subject to an EPA-initiated risk evaluation if the chemical substance is imported in an article, produced as a byproduct, or produced or imported as an impurity. EPA updated its cost estimates for administering TSCA, relevant information management activities, and individual fee calculation methodologies. EPA proposed a volume-based fee allocation for EPA-initiated risk evaluation fees in any scenario where a consortium is not formed and is proposing to require export-only manufacturers to pay fees for EPA-initiated risk evaluations. EPA also proposed various changes to the timing of certain activities required throughout the fee payment process. In light of public comments, EPA states that it has decided to issue a supplemental NPRM in October 2022 and seek additional public comment on changes to the January 2021 proposal. More information on the proposed rule is available in our December 30, 2020, memorandum.
  • New Chemicals Procedural Regulations to Reflect the 2016 Amendments to TSCA (2070-AK65): On June 22, 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act) was signed into law, amending TSCA and impacting how EPA reviews and makes determinations on new chemical notices under TSCA Section 5. EPA states that as a result of these increased responsibilities, it has become more challenging to complete reviews within 90 days. This rulemaking seeks to revise the new chemicals procedural regulations in 40 C.F.R. Part 720 to improve the efficiency of EPA’s review process and to align its processes and procedures with the new statutory requirements. This rulemaking seeks to increase the quality of information initially submitted in new chemicals notices and improve EPA’s processes to reduce unnecessary rework in the risk assessment and, ultimately, the length of time that new chemicals are under review. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in February 2023.
  • Confidential Business Information (CBI) Claims under TSCA (2070-AK68): EPA is considering proposing new and amended rules concerning the assertion and maintenance of claims of CBI under TSCA. Amendments to TSCA in 2016 included several new provisions concerning the assertion and EPA review and treatment of confidentiality claims. EPA states that it is considering procedures for submitting and supporting such claims in TSCA submissions, including substantiation requirements, exemptions, electronic reporting enhancements, and maintenance or withdrawal of confidentiality claims. EPA is also considering whether the proposed rule should also elaborate on EPA’s procedures for reviewing and communicating with TSCA submitters about confidentiality claims. EPA expects the proposed rule to include new provisions, as well as revisions to existing rules on asserting confidentiality claims to conform to the 2016 amendments to TSCA. As reported in our May 17 and May 18, 2022, memoranda, EPA issued a proposed rule on May 12, 2022. EPA intends to issue a final rule in May 2023.
  • Chemical-Specific Rulemakings under TSCA Section 6(a): TSCA Section 6 requires EPA to address unreasonable risks of injury to health or the environment that the Administrator has determined are presented by a chemical substance under the conditions of use. Following risk evaluations for the following chemicals carried out under the authority of TSCA Section 6, EPA initiated rulemakings to address unreasonable risks of injury to health identified in the final risk evaluations:
    • Methylene Chloride (2070-AK70): EPA’s risk evaluation for methylene chloride, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0437, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0742. EPA intends to issue an NPRM in February 2023 and a final rule in August 2024. More information on EPA’s draft revision to its risk determination for methylene chloride will be available in a forthcoming memorandum;
    • 1-Bromopropane (2070-AK73): EPA’s risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0235, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0741. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in May 2023 and a final rule in August 2024;
    • Carbon Tetrachloride (2070-AK82): EPA’s risk evaluation, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0499, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0733. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in April 2023 and a final rule in August 2024;
    • Trichloroethylene (TCE) (2070-AK83): EPA’s risk evaluation for TCE, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0500, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0737. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in March 2023 and a final rule in August 2024. More information on EPA’s draft revision to its risk determination for TCE will be available in a forthcoming memorandum;
    • Perchloroethylene (PCE) (2070-AK84): EPA’s risk evaluation for PCE, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0502, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0732. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in February 2023 and a final rule in August 2024. More information on EPA’s draft revision to its risk determination for PCE will be available in a forthcoming memorandum;
    • N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) (2070-AK85): EPA’s risk evaluation for NMP, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0236, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0743. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in May 2023 and a final rule in August 2024. More information on EPA’s draft revision to its risk determination for NMP will be available in a forthcoming memorandum; and
    • Asbestos (Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos) (2070-AK86): EPA’s risk evaluation for chrysotile asbestos, describing the conditions of use and presenting EPA’s determinations of unreasonable risk, is in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0501, with additional information in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0736. More information on EPA’s proposed rule to prohibit ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos is available in our April 7, 2022, memorandum. EPA intends to publish a final rule in November 2023.
  • Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA (2070-AK90): As required under TSCA Section 6(b)(4), EPA published a final rule on July 20, 2017, that established a process for conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, without consideration of costs or other non-risk factors, including an unreasonable risk to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation, under the conditions of use. This process incorporates the science requirements of the amended statute, including best available science and weight of the scientific evidence. The final rule established the steps of a risk evaluation process, including: scope, hazard assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterization, and risk determination. EPA states that it is now considering revisions to that final rule and will solicit public comment through an NPRM. EPA intends to publish the NPRM in September 2022. More information on EPA’s 2017 rule is available in our June 26, 2017, memorandum.
  • Asbestos; Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements under TSCA (2070-AK99): This rulemaking, under the authority of TSCA Section 8(a), would require certain persons that manufactured (including imported) or processed asbestos and asbestos-containing articles (including as an impurity) to report certain exposure-related information, including quantities of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles manufactured (including imported) or processed, types of asbestos used, and employee data. Reported information would be used by EPA and other federal agencies in considering the regulation of asbestos. EPA notes that this rulemaking is the result of a settlement agreement stemming from litigation pursuant to TSCA Section 21. See Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization v. EPA, No. 19-CV-00871; State of California et al. v. EPA, No. 19-CV-03807. More information on EPA’s proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements is available in our May 6, 2022, memorandum. EPA intends to publish a final rule in November 2022.
  • Other Chemical Substances Undergoing TSCA Section 6 Risk Evaluation; Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for Certain Non-Ongoing Uses (2070-AL05): EPA is developing TSCA Section 5(a)(2) SNURs on conditions of use identified as not currently ongoing in the final scope documents for the high-priority substances undergoing TSCA Section 6 risk evaluations. EPA states that it will use the SNURs to require notice to EPA before chemical substances and mixtures are used in new ways that might create concerns. Persons subject to a SNUR who intend to manufacture (including import) or process the chemical substance for the significant new use must notify EPA at least 90 days prior to initiating activities via a significant new use notice (SNUN). EPA intends to publish an NPRM in December 2022 and a final rule in May 2024.
  • The Unified Agenda includes the following chemical-specific SNURs for certain non-ongoing uses:
    • Phthalates; SNUR for Certain Non-Ongoing Uses (2070-AL06): EPA intends to publish an NPRM in November 2022 and a final rule in May 2024;
    • Flame Retardants; SNUR for Certain Non-Ongoing Uses (2070-AL07): EPA intends to publish an NPRM in December 2022 and a final rule in November 2023; and
    • Certain Solvents; SNUR for Certain Non-Ongoing Uses (2070-AL08): EPA intends to publish an NPRM in December 2022 and a final rule in May 2024.
  • Inactive Inventory Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) SNUR (2070-AL10): EPA is developing a SNUR under TSCA Section 5(a)(2) for certain uses of Inactive Inventory PFAS. Persons subject to the Inactive Inventory PFAS SNUR would be required to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing manufacture or processing for any use that EPA has determined is a significant new use. The required notifications would initiate EPA’s evaluation of the intended use within the applicable review period. Manufacture and processing for the significant new use would be unable to commence until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in September 2022 and a final rule in June 2023.
  • TRI; Response to Petition to Add Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) to the TRI List of Toxic Chemicals (2025-AA17): According to EPA, this action arises from a petition received by EPA to add DINP to the list of toxic chemicals reportable under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). In response to the petition, EPA initiated a rulemaking on September 5, 2000, proposing to add DINP to the TRI list. On June 14, 2005, EPA issued a notice of data availability seeking comments on EPA’s revised hazard assessment for DINP in further support of EPA’s proposal to add DINP to the TRI list. EPA states that the addition of DINP to the TRI list would make it subject to all the reporting requirements under the Toxic Chemical Release Reporting Rule. EPA intends to publish a supplemental NPRM in July 2022 and a final rule in May 2023;
  • Changes to Reporting Requirements for PFAS; Community Right-to-Know Toxic Chemical Release Reporting (2070-AK97): EPA is developing a proposal to add PFAS subject to reporting under EPCRA Section 313 and Section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) to the list of Lower Thresholds for Chemicals of Special Concern (Chemicals of Special Concern). EPA states that the addition of the PFAS to the Chemicals of Special Concern list will eliminate the use of the de minimis exemption, eliminate the option to use Form A, and limit the use of range reporting. In addition, EPA is proposing to eliminate the use of the de minimis exemption under the Supplier Notification Requirements for facilities that manufacture or process all chemicals included on the Chemicals of Special Concern list. According to EPA, Chemicals of Special Concern may be found in products below de minimis levels; this is especially true for PFAS that are used at low concentrations in many products. Because of the widespread use of PFAS and their (or their degradants) persistence in the environment, however, even concentrations below de minimis levels can contribute significantly to environmental loading. The elimination of the de minimis exemption for supplier notification purposes will help facilities to identify potential sources of PFAS and other Chemicals of Special Concern. EPA believes that the elimination of the de minimis exemption under the Supplier Notification Requirements for PFAS and other Chemicals of Special Concern will result in a more complete picture of the releases and waste management quantities for these chemicals. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in September 2022 and a final rule in November 2023.
  • Addition of Certain PFAS to the TRI (2070-AL03): EPA is developing a rulemaking to add certain PFAS to the list of chemicals reportable under EPCRA Section 313. EPA states that the addition of these PFAS is in direct response to a statutory mandate under Section 7321(d) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA). Under Section 7321(d), EPA was required to evaluate whether certain specific PFAS meet the EPCRA Section 313 listing criteria by December 2021 and is required to add any PFAS that EPA determines meet the listing criteria by December 2023. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in February 2023 and a final rule in November 2023.
  • Community Right-to-Know; Adopting 2022 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes for TRI Reporting (2070-AL09): EPA is developing a proposed rule to incorporate the revised 2022 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for TRI reporting purposes. According to EPA, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updates the NAICS codes every five years. OMB approved the 2022 NAICS codes on December 21, 2021 (86 Fed. Reg. 72277), with an effective date of January 1, 2022. EPA currently uses 2017 NAICS codes, and with this proposed rule would implement the 2022 codes for TRI Reporting Year 2022. Facilities reporting to the TRI would be required to use 2022 NAICS codes on reports that are due to EPA by July 1, 2023. This rule also proposed to update the C.F.R. to clarify the scope of facilities required to report to the TRI. According to EPA, the actual data required by a TRI form would not change as a result of this rulemaking, nor would the rule affect the universe of TRI reporting facilities that are required to submit reports to EPA under EPCRA Section 313. EPA intended to publish an NPRM in June 2022 and a final rule in November 2022.

Final Rule Stage

  • Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances; Updates to the Hazard Communication Program and Regulatory Framework; Minor Amendments to Reporting Requirements for Premanufacture Notices (PMN) (2070-AJ94): In 2016, EPA proposed changes to the existing regulations governing significant new uses of chemical substances under TSCA (40 C.F.R. Part 721, specifically “Protection in the Workplace” (40 C.F.R. Section 721.63) and “Hazard Communication Program” (40 C.F.R. Section 721.72)) to align these regulations with revisions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communications Standard (HCS) (29 C.F.R. Section 1910.1200), which are proposed to be cross referenced, and with changes to the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) respirator certification requirements pertaining to respiratory protection of workers from exposure to chemicals. EPA also proposed changes to the significant new uses of chemical substance regulations based on issues that have been identified by EPA and issues raised by public commenters for SNURs previously proposed and issued under these regulations. Additionally, EPA proposed a minor change to reporting requirements for PMNs and other TSCA Section 5 notices. EPA states that it expects these changes to have minimal impacts on the costs and burdens of complying, while updating the significant new use reporting requirements to assist in addressing any potential effects to human health and the environment. EPA is reviewing the comments received and is planning to issue a final rule. EPA intends to issue a final rule in October 2022. More information on the proposed rule is available in our July 29, 2016, memorandum.
  • Reporting and Recordkeeping for PFAS under TSCA Section 8(a)(7) (2070-AK67): EPA published a proposed rule on June 28, 2021, addressing reporting and recordkeeping requirements for PFAS under TSCA Section 8(a)(7). In accordance with obligations under TSCA Section 8(a), as amended by NDAA Section 7351, persons that manufacture (including import) or have manufactured these chemical substances in any year since January 1, 2011, would be subject to the reporting and recordkeeping requirements. In addition to fulfilling statutory obligations under TSCA, EPA states that it expects that the proposed rule would enable it to characterize better the sources and quantities of manufactured PFAS in the United States. EPA intends to publish a final rule in December 2022. More information on EPA’s proposed rule is available in our June 11, 2021, memorandum.
  • TRI; Response to Petition from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) to Add 25 Chemicals (2070-AK26): The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) submitted a petition under EPCRA Section 313(e)(1) to add 25 chemicals to the EPCRA Section 313 list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under the TRI. Three of the 25 chemicals were added to the EPCRA Section 313 list through actions unrelated to the petition. EPA states that it evaluated the remaining 22 chemicals to determine if they met the listing criteria of EPCRA Section 313(d)(2). EPA proposed the addition of 12 of the 22 chemicals that were determined to meet the EPCRA Section 313(d)(2) criteria and for which reports were expected to be filed. EPA is reviewing the comments received and is planning to issue a final rule. EPA intends to issue a final rule in November 2022.
  • Parent Company Definition for TRI Reporting (2070-AK42): In 2021, EPA proposed to codify the definition of “parent company” for purposes of reporting to the TRI. Although the existing regulation requires facilities reporting to the TRI to identify their parent company in annual reporting forms, no codified definition of this data element exists. Among the facilities reporting to the TRI are those with complicated corporate ownership structures. As such, effort is required each year by reporting facilities and EPA to clarify how the parent company data element should be represented on the form. According to EPA, a codified definition of parent company would allow EPA to address various corporate ownership scenarios explicitly and reduce the reporting burden caused by regulatory uncertainty. EPA states that the proposed rule would clarify existing regulations to reporting facilities and add a foreign parent company data element, if applicable, while improving EPA’s data quality. EPA is reviewing the comments received and is determining next steps. EPA intends to publish a final rule in October 2022.
  • NDAA Mandated Addition of Certain PFAS to the TRI for Reporting Year 2022 (2070-AL04): According to EPA, NDAA Section 7321 provides a framework for PFAS to be added automatically to the TRI list on January 1 of the year following certain EPA actions. In December 2021, EPA announced the statutory addition of the PFAS chemicals covered by the NDAA to the list of chemical substances subject to reporting for the TRI. This regulatory action amends the EPCRA regulations in 40 C.F.R. Part 372 to reflect this statutory addition. EPA intended to publish a final rule in June 2022.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 4, 2022, the availability of the latest Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory. EPA states that the biannual update to the public TSCA Inventory is part of its regular posting of non-confidential TSCA Inventory data. EPA plans the next regular update of the Inventory for summer 2022. According to EPA, the Inventory contains 86,631 chemicals, of which 42,039 are active in U.S commerce. Other updates include new chemical substance additions, commercial activity data and regulatory flags, such as polymer exemptions, TSCA Section 4 test orders, and TSCA Section 5 significant new use rules (SNUR). EPA notes that on October 15, 2021, it announced a list of 377 specific chemical identities that were expected to lose their confidential status and move to the public portion of the Inventory. According to EPA, these 377 are listed in this public Inventory posting by their specific chemical identities.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
According to an October 25, 2021, project notification memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) plans to begin an evaluation to determine the extent to which EPA followed applicable policies, procedures, and guidance for the changes made to the significant new use rule (SNUR) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances between the EPA Administrator’s signing of the final rule on June 22, 2020, and the publication of the final rule in the Federal Register on July 27, 2020. The memorandum states that the anticipated benefits of the evaluation include greater assurance that EPA “has controls in place to maintain the integrity of signed final rules prior to final publication in the Federal Register.”
 
The memorandum states that the evaluation is the result of a Congressional request. The evaluation is part of OIG’s oversight plan for fiscal year (FY) 2022 and addresses the following FY 2022 top management challenge for EPA: ensuring safe use of chemicals.
 
More information on EPA’s July 27, 2020, final SNUR is available in our July 27, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Issues Final SNUR for LCPFAC and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemical Substances.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on June 10, 2021, three actions intended to protect communities from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The actions include proposing a rule designed to obtain comprehensive data on more than 1,000 PFAS manufactured in the United States, withdrawing guidance that EPA believes weakened its July 2020 significant new use rule (SNUR) restricting certain long-chain PFAS, and publishing a final rule that incorporates three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) maintained under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Below is a brief summary of the actions. More detailed information and an insightful commentary are available in our forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.

Proposed TSCA Rule to Require Reporting on PFAS Manufactured in the United States

The fiscal year 2020 (FY2020) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to add Section 8(a)(7), mandating that EPA promulgate a rule “requiring each person who has manufactured a chemical substance that is a [PFAS] in any year since January 1, 2011” to report certain information. EPA’s proposed rule would require all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS in any year since 2011 to report information related to chemical identity, categories of use, volumes manufactured and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure, and disposal. EPA states that the proposed rule will help it better understand the sources and quantities of PFAS manufactured in the United States and support its research, monitoring, and regulatory efforts. Publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register will begin a 60-day comment period.

Withdrawing Compliance Guide on PFAS SNUR

In accordance with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Orders and other directives, including those on environmental justice, scientific integrity, and regulatory review, EPA states that it has withdrawn a compliance guide that EPA believes weakened the July 27, 2020, final SNUR for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances (85 Fed. Reg. 45109). The final rule prohibits companies from importing certain long-chain PFAS as part of a “surface coating” on articles without prior EPA review and approval. EPA states that examples of articles that could contain these PFAS as part of a surface coating include, but are not limited to, automotive parts, carpet, furniture, and electronic components.

As reported in our January 20, 2021, blog item, EPA issued the compliance guide in January 2021 in the last days of the previous Administration and limited what would be considered a “surface coating” subject to the SNUR. EPA states that “[t]he guide was never deemed necessary by career staff and its development was directed by political officials serving in the last Administration.” Additionally, EPA prepared the final guide without considering or addressing comments submitted by the public. After further review, EPA “determined that the guide inappropriately narrowed the scope and weakened the prohibitions included in the SNUR.”

Implementing NDAA Requirements to Report PFAS to TRI

The NDAA provided a framework for additional PFAS to be added to TRI on an annual basis. For TRI Reporting Year 2021 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2022), the NDAA automatically added three PFAS to the TRI list because they are now subject to a SNUR under TSCA. EPA issued a final rule on June 3, 2021, incorporating these requirements into the Code of Federal Regulations for TRI (86 Fed. Reg. 29698). Per the NDAA requirements, the PFAS additions became effective as of January 1, 2021. Reporting forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2022, for calendar year 2021 data.

Tags: PFAS, SNUR, Section 8, TRI,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On May 21, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its response to a portion of the petition it received February 8, 2021, from People for Protecting Peace River, Center for Biological Diversity, and 16 other organizations. 86 Fed. Reg. 27546. While the petition requested three actions related to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA states that it has determined that only one of those actions is an appropriate request: a request to issue a test rule under TSCA requiring testing of phosphogypsum and process wastewater from phosphoric acid production. According to the notice, EPA is treating the other portions of the petition involving TSCA as a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); those other portions request EPA to initiate the prioritization process for designating phosphogypsum and process wastewater as high-priority substances for risk evaluation and to make a determination by rule under TSCA that the use of phosphogypsum in road construction is a significant new use. Therefore, the notice does not provide EPA’s response to these two TSCA-requested actions. Also, it does not address the petitioners’ requests under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA states that “[a]fter careful consideration,” it has denied the TSCA Section 21 portion of the petition for the following reasons:

  • Request for prioritization under TSCA Section 6 and related testing under TSCA Section 4(a)(2)(B): Because TSCA Section 21 does not provide an avenue for petitioners to request the initiation of the prioritization process for phosphogypsum and process wastewater, EPA is treating this portion of the request as a petition for action under the APA. Petitioners assert that “should EPA initiate prioritization but find that the development of new information is necessary to finalize a prioritization decision for phosphogypsum and process wastewater, EPA should exercise its authority under section 4(a)(2)(B) to obtain that information and establish priority.” EPA states that because it is not addressing the request for prioritization and has not otherwise initiated prioritization on phosphogypsum or process wastewater, it is not in a position to exercise its authority under TSCA Section 4(a)(2)(B) in the manner and for the reason described by petitioners.
  • Request for significant new use rule (SNUR) under TSCA Section 5: TSCA Section 21 does not provide for the submission of a petition seeking the initiation of a rule under TSCA Section 5. EPA states that SNURs are issued under the authority of TSCA Section 5(a)(2). Since TSCA Section 21 does not provide an avenue for petitioners to request the initiation of a proceeding to make a determination by rule under TSCA Section 5(a), EPA is treating this portion of the request as a petition for action under the APA.
  • Request for issuance of a test rule under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A): According to the notice, TSCA Section 21 does provide for the submission of a petition seeking issuance of a test rule under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A). EPA states that it finds that the petitioners have not met their burden as defined in TSCA Sections 4(a)(1)(A) and 21(b)(1) because the petitioners have not provided the facts necessary to determine for phosphogypsum and process wastewater that existing information and experience are insufficient and testing with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.

More information about the petition is available in our March 12, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Receives Petition Seeking RCRA and TSCA Regulatory Action for Phosphogypsum and Process Wastewater.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 29, 2021, that it is evaluating its policies, guidance, templates, and regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) new chemicals program to ensure they “adhere to statutory requirements,” the Biden-Harris Administration’s executive orders, and other directives.  EPA identified several instances where its approach for making determinations and managing risks associated with new chemicals can, according to EPA, more closely align with TSCA’s requirements to ensure protections for human health and the environment, including the use of significant new use rules (SNUR) and assumptions related to worker exposures.  EPA states that it will stop issuing determinations of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” based on the existence of proposed SNURs.  According to EPA, “[r]ather than excluding reasonably foreseen conditions of use from EPA’s review of a new substance by means of a SNUR, Congress anticipated that EPA would review all conditions of use when making determinations on new chemicals and, where appropriate, issue orders to address potential risks.”  Going forward, when EPA concludes that one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA believes that it lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, EPA will issue an order to address those potential risks.

EPA states that as has been the “long-standing practice,” it intends to continue issuing SNURs following TSCA Section 5(e) and 5(f) orders for new chemicals to ensure the requirements imposed on the submitter via an order apply to any person who manufactures or processes the chemical in the future.  EPA notes that this ensures that other manufacturers of the same new chemical substance are held to the same conditions as the submitter subject to the TSCA Section 5(e) or 5(f) order.

EPA states that it now intends to ensure necessary protections for workers identified in its review of new chemicals through regulatory means.  According to the announcement, where EPA identifies a potential unreasonable risk to workers that could be addressed with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard communication, EPA will no longer assume that workers are protected adequately under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) worker protection standards and updated safety data sheets (SDS).  Instead, EPA will identify the absence of worker safeguards as “reasonably foreseen” conditions of use, and mandate necessary protections through a TSCA Section 5(e) order, as appropriate.

Commentary

The first policy change -- that the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) will no longer employ the “non-order SNUR” construction to regulate new chemicals without an order -- was somewhat predictable.  This construction, since its inception, has led to questions about whether this interpretation meets the requirements under TSCA Section 5.  In our view, EPA issuing a SNUR to prohibit conditions of use that EPA identifies as potentially leading to an unreasonable risk was an appropriate and expeditious means to achieve the protective end (the TSCA regulation) without the inefficiency and delays associated with the development of a consent order.  EPA would only use this option when EPA concluded the intended conditions of use were not likely to present an unreasonable risk.  It is not clear why a SNUR is viewed as being less protective than an order, when an order applies only to the premanufacture notice (PMN) submitter and a SNUR applies to all actors in the supply chain.  EPA is required to promulgate a SNUR that conforms to an order absent a reason otherwise.  The claim that undertaking a condition of use that is defined in a SNUR as a significant new use “requires only notification to EPA” misrepresents the rigor of the significant new use notice (SNUN) process.  A SNUN functions just like a PMN, with a similar level of effort required on the submitter’s and EPA’s parts and nearly identical determination outcomes (a consent order, modification of the existing SNUR, or revocation of the existing SNUR if warranted), so saying that a SNUN is “just a notification to EPA” is the equivalent of stating that a PMN is “just a notification to EPA.”  Detractors might also claim that orders include testing, but that presumes that testing is required for EPA to make an informed decision.  If EPA can, as it routinely does, make a decision based on conservative assumptions with analogs, models, and information provided by the submitter, EPA can similarly make an informed decision about what measures are necessary to achieve its protective goal without new test data.  In Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) view, this policy change will add marginal, if any, protective benefit at a significant increase in effort by both EPA and the submitter.

EPA’s decision that it no longer views use of PPE as reasonably foreseeable is an unwelcome and unprincipled development.  B&C, on behalf of the TSCA New Chemicals Coalition (NCC), provided, at OPPT’s request, a robust data set that demonstrated that proper PPE is rarely not used in an industrial/commercial setting.  A database of 40 years of OSHA violations contained very few glove, goggle, and general dermal protection violations -- all obvious violations to any inspector.  The marginal number of OSHA violations supports the NCC’s view that standard PPE use is both reasonably foreseeable and highly likely and demonstrably so.  Today’s unexplained reversal is difficult to reconcile with these facts.  If EPA proceeds to issue orders for every PMN that may present a risk if workers do not take routine protective measures, then EPA will be required to regulate nearly every PMN in which EPA identifies a hazard other than “low hazard” for health and ecotoxicity, as was EPA’s practice when the Lautenberg amendments were passed in 2016.  As we have stated previously, that would mean that EPA will be implementing TSCA as a hazard-based law, instead of the clear risk-based law that it is.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 3, 2021, the latest update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory, “a list of all existing chemical substances manufactured, processed, or imported” in the United States.  EPA states that this biannual update to the public TSCA Inventory is part of its regular posting of non-confidential TSCA Inventory data.  EPA plans to release the next regular update of the Inventory in summer 2021.  According to EPA, the Inventory contains 86,557 chemicals of which 41,864 are active in U.S commerce.  EPA notes that other updates to the TSCA Inventory include new chemical substance additions, commercial activity data, and regulatory flags, such as polymer exemptions, TSCA Section 4 test orders, and TSCA Section 5 significant new use rules (SNUR).


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of a final compliance guide that outlines which imported articles are covered by EPA’s July 2020 final significant new use rule (SNUR) that prohibits companies from manufacturing, importing, processing, or using certain long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) without prior EPA review and approval.  The final guide is “the official compliance guide for imported articles that may contain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances as part of a surface coating.”  Specifically, the guide provides additional clarity on what is meant by a “surface coating,” identifies which entities are regulated, describes the activities that are required or prohibited, and summarizes the notification requirements of the final SNUR.  EPA states that there “are no significant changes between the final guidance document and the draft document, which was released for public comment in December.”  More information on the draft compliance guide is available in our December 14, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Draft Compliance Guide Addressing Surface Coatings under PFAS SNUR.”  Comments on the draft guide were due January 15, 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On December 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of a draft compliance guide that outlines which imported articles are covered by EPA’s July 2020 final significant new use rule (SNUR) that prohibits companies from manufacturing, importing, processing, or using certain long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) without prior EPA review and approval.  85 FR 81466.  The draft guide will be “the official compliance guide for imported articles that may contain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances as part of a surface coating.”  Specifically, the guide provides additional clarity on what is meant by a “surface coating,” identifies which entities are regulated, describes the activities that are required or prohibited, and summarizes the notification requirements of the final SNUR.  More information on the draft compliance guide is available in our December 14, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Draft Compliance Guide Addressing Surface Coatings under PFAS SNUR.”  Comments on the draft guide are due January 15, 2021.


 
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