Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As part of a multi-agency effort to address pollution from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on October 18, 2021, the PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024. The Strategic Roadmap includes:

  • Timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to ensure water is safe to drink in every community;
  • A hazardous substance designation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to strengthen the ability to hold polluters financially accountable;
  • Timelines for action -- whether it is data collection or rulemaking -- on Effluent Guideline Limitations under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for nine industrial categories;
  • A review of past actions on PFAS taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address those that are insufficiently protective;
  • Increased monitoring, data collection, and research so that EPA can identify what actions are needed and when to take them;
  • A final toxicity assessment for GenX that can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions the better to protect human health and ecological wellness; and
  • Continued efforts to build the technical foundation needed on PFAS air emissions to inform future actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

EPA also released a national PFAS testing strategy that will require PFAS manufacturers to provide toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS chemicals to inform future regulatory efforts. EPA states that it will select the PFAS to be tested “based on an approach that breaks the large number of PFAS into smaller categories based on similar features and considers what existing data are available for each category.” According to EPA, it will “strategically” select the initial set of test orders from more than 20 different categories of PFAS. EPA expects to use its TSCA Section 4 order authority to require PFAS manufacturers to conduct and fund the studies. EPA plans to issue the first round of test orders by the end of 2021 with additional phases thereafter. More information and a detailed commentary will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on November 12, 2019, announcing the availability of its response to a petition it received under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  84 Fed. Reg. 60986.  As reported in our August 23, 2019, blog item, PEER petitioned EPA under TSCA Section 21 to prohibit the use of hydrofluoric acid in manufacturing processes at oil refineries under TSCA Section 6(a) and under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to take the same action pursuant to Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA).  PEER petitioned EPA to prohibit the use of hydrofluoric acid in manufacturing processes at oil refineries and require a phase-out of use at such facilities within two years.  EPA states that after “careful consideration,” it has denied the Section 21 petition.  EPA notes that the Federal Register notice specifically addresses only the TSCA Section 21 petition, not the petition submitted under the APA.  EPA is denying the petition “based on the petition’s lack of sufficient facts establishing that it is necessary for the Agency to issue a rule under TSCA section 6(a).”  According to EPA, to grant a petition for a TSCA Section 6(a) rulemaking, a petition must provide facts establishing that the requested rulemaking is necessary.  Those facts need to be “sufficiently clear and robust for EPA to be able to conclude, within 90 days of filing the petition, that the chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment and that issuance of a TSCA section 6(a) rule is the appropriate response to the petition.”  To make the threshold finding, EPA needs hazard and exposure data and other information to enable it to assess risk and conclude whether the risk is unreasonable.  In this case, EPA states that PEER’s petition “refers to hazard databases and makes conclusory statements of toxicity but provides little further information that would support granting a TSCA section 6(a) rulemaking request.”  According to EPA, the petition lacks the analysis that would be expected in a TSCA risk evaluation preceding a Section 6(a) rulemaking, such as “discussion of the appropriate hazard threshold, exposure estimates, assessment of risks, or how the facts presented allow EPA to comply with its duties under section 26 or other statutory requirements in making an unreasonable risk determination.”  Absent such information, EPA “cannot make the threshold determinations necessary to substantively assess and grant a petition for a TSCA section 6(a) rulemaking.”  EPA denies PEER’s petition request as facially incomplete.