By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a report to Congress on its capacity to implement certain provisions of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act). The report provides point-in-time estimates of EPA’s current estimated capacity and resources needed to implement the 2016 Lautenberg Act amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA states that it recognizes its responsibility to identify and implement opportunities to reduce costs as it incorporates lessons learned since the Lautenberg Act was enacted and builds the scientific, regulatory, and other infrastructure needed to implement the program effectively. For example:
- The resources included in President Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request would allow EPA to modernize its information technology (IT) systems, which at times hinder and significantly slow chemical review work. These improvements will ultimately reduce TSCA implementation costs;
- The resources included in the FY 2023 budget request would allow EPA to increase and further diversify the expertise of the TSCA program’s scientific workforce, which will reduce re-work and enable more timely and robust chemical reviews, and thus ultimately reduce TSCA implementation costs;
- As EPA further develops its scientific and regulatory tools (including but not limited to systematic review, techniques to assess chemical risks to potentially exposed and susceptible subpopulations, and potential measures to address occupational safety), EPA expects costs of developing these tools to decrease;
- EPA has made significant efforts to enhance its intra- and inter-agency coordination to improve the efficiency of the prioritization, risk evaluation, and regulatory processes by identifying and resolving concerns earlier, thus increasing EPA’s capacity to implement the Lautenberg Act in accordance with statutory deadlines; and
- Many of the first 30 chemicals subject to the amended TSCA risk evaluation and regulatory process are high production volume substances used by many sectors for many purposes, and about which health and environmental concerns are known to exist. As EPA continues to meet the TSCA mandate continuously to select and evaluate chemical substances from among the thousands of chemical substances in commerce, it is reasonable to expect that a reduction in the scope and complexity of each risk evaluation, as well as the associated risk management actions, would reduce implementation costs.
According to the report, the combination of the resources included in Biden’s FY 2023 budget request, an amended fees rule, and EPA’s ongoing efforts to build and improve the scientific, regulatory, and other infrastructure needed to implement TSCA more efficiently should, over time, reduce the levels of resources needed in the future. Our forthcoming memorandum will include a detailed summary of the proposed rule and an insightful commentary.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.
On March 11, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Justification of Appropriation Estimates for the Committee on Appropriations. EPA’s budget request reduces the overall budget by $2.76 billion (31 percent), to $6.068 billion, but requests $66.418 million to support its Chemical Risk Review and Reduction (CRRR) program, an increase of $5.313 million.
EPA zeros out the other programs under Toxics Risk Review and Prevention, however, including the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), the Pollution Prevention (P2) program, and the Lead Risk Reduction Program. EPA states that it will “absorb the remaining functions [of the EDSP] within the Pesticides Program using the currently available tiered testing battery,” “continue to meet core statutory requirements under the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 in other programs,” and that “lead paint certifications will continue under the [CRRR] Program.”
In its budget, EPA states that “the resources requested by EPA will support continued implementation of the amendments to [the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)], with emphasis on the critical mandates and timelines applicable to pre-market review of new chemicals, chemical risk evaluation and management, review and determinations on incoming [confidential business information (CBI)] claims, and other statutory priorities.” EPA anticipates an increased workload to support these efforts in FY 2020 as the Agency reaches statutory deadlines to conclude the first ten risk evaluations for existing chemicals, and initiate risk management regulatory actions as necessary. As part of this work load, EPA lists its primary TSCA implementation activities under Sections 4, 5, 6, 14; its other TSCA mandates and activities under Section 8; and the information technology systems being developed in support of TSCA implementation, all of which are extensive.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On April 26, 2018, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt was grilled by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Environment at a hearing titled The Fiscal Year 2019 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Budget. The budget was plainly not the primary topic as the House Committee Members covered a lot of ground. Pruitt fielded many questions and comments from House Democrats on his alleged ethical lapses regarding spending, security details, retaliation towards EPA employees who reportedly questioned his practices, and concerns about a hostile work environment. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed concern over the installation of a secure phone booth in his office. His opening statement addressed these criticisms only vaguely, stating that they are merely a distraction and an attempt to “attack and derail the President’s agenda and these administration’s priorities.” There were also questions concerning the delay of the proposed rule banning the use of methylene chloride, and criticism regarding EPA’s recent proposed rule to strengthen transparency in regulatory science (the “secret” Science Rule).
No attempt is made here to summarize the lengthy hearing.
Pruitt’s testimony statement is available here. It does not contain information on the Science Rule, but it briefly references the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in a section entitled “Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals in Commerce.”
More information on the many TSCA implementation initiatives is available on our TSCA Reform News & Information webpage, as well as the TSCAblogTM. A summary of Pruitt’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is available in our blog item “Pruitt Addresses Legacy Issues, TSCA Implementation in Oversight Hearing.”
By Christopher R. Bryant, Lynn L. Bergeson, and Margaret R. Graham
Facing a government shutdown, late on April 30, 2017, lawmakers reached agreement on a spending bill that funds the federal government through September 2017, which is the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.
President Trump’s budget blueprint sought to slash EPA’s coffers by some 31 percent (and more if certain programs were eliminated from the base). The deal reached by lawmakers, however, would essentially fund EPA at its current levels and retain current staff levels. The bill appropriates $8.058 billion for EPA, paring a little over $80 million -- about one percent -- from EPA’s FY 2016 budget.
Programs targeted for elimination by President Trump remain funded, at least through September, when Congress will face another budget showdown. For example, the bill funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and lead elimination programs.
While EPA’s budget is generally unchanged, the bill does contain several policy riders. It would require EPA to treat air emissions from forest biomass as carbon neutral. EPA also would not be allowed to regulate manure and similar agricultural byproducts as wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the bill would bar EPA from requiring Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for certain agricultural practices. The legislation also prohibits funding to regulate lead content of ammunition, ammunition components, and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or any other law.
Senate Report No. 114-281 on the pending FY 2017 budget deal and an accompanying explanatory statement also address specifically TSCA, the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), and nanomaterials. The specific language is below.
- Toxic Substances Control Act Modernization -- The Committee notes that legislation to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act [TSCA] was recently approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This bill includes language that will enable the EPA to collect and spend new fees to conduct additional chemical reviews, consistent with TSCA modernization legislation. Those fees are expected to be $25,000,000 per year once the program is fully implemented. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in fiscal year 2017, fee collections will begin several months after the beginning of the fiscal year and will total $4,000,000. This bill also includes language ensuring that new fee collections will supplement, not supplant, appropriated resources for these activities.
- Integrated Risk Information System -- The Committee is aware of efforts by the Agency to implement the 2011 National Academy of Science’s [NAS] Chapter 7 and 2014 NAS report recommendations for the Integrated Risk Information System [IRIS] but remains concerned that the recommendations have not been fully implemented. In published appendices that accompany final IRIS assessments, EPA has detailed some of the Agency’s deficiencies in meeting the NAS high-priority reforms. The Committee directs the Agency to convene an interagency working group to be Co-Chaired with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and to include relevant executive branch stakeholders to review compliance with the NAS recommendations in IRIS assessments issued since the 2014 NAS report. The working group shall focus specifically on transition from the use of single point estimates of hazard and exposure to presenting more complete information on the distribution of estimated hazards, exposures, and/or risks, including central tendency values; on processes for evaluating study quality, relevance, and risk of bias; the use of a transparent and reproducible weight-of-evidence process for applying scientific findings; the selection of an adverse outcome; and the use of default linear low-dose extrapolation and other default modeling approaches to hazard determinations. The Committee directs the Agency to issue a report to the Committees of Appropriations of the House and Senate on the findings of the working group and the implementation plans of its findings within 180 days of enactment of this act. The working group report shall also include a timetable for EPA’s full implementation of the NAS recommendations for all IRIS assessments issued since the 2014 NAS report.
- Nanomaterials Research -- The Committee notes the increased capabilities that the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has developed to study environment, health, and safety of nanomaterials [nanoEHS] within FDA’s Jefferson Laboratory Campus, including the National Center for Toxicological Research, and its consolidated headquarters at White Oak, Maryland. The FDA can and should be more involved in nanoEHS research with other agencies, particularly in activities involving human health. Out of the amounts appropriated, the [EPA} Administrator shall seek to involve the FDA in nanoEHS research to the maximum extent possible, including participation in EPA funded research.