EDF Health

Selected tag(s): Lautenberg Act

The Court’s TSCA decision is a much bigger win for public health than first meets the eye

Robert Stockman is a Senior Attorney.  Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a landmark case involving a challenge to EPA’s so-called “framework rules” that lay out how it will implement core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended in 2016 by the Lautenberg Act.

An array of health, labor and environmental groups, EDF among them, (see full list of petitioners below) had challenged EPA’s Risk Evaluation Rule and Prioritization Rule on the grounds that they deviated in significant ways from amended TSCA’s requirements.

We clearly won on a major issue in the litigation, but a careful reading of the Court’s opinion shows that we effectively won on another key issue even though the court ruled against us.  And several of the court’s other rulings either suggest it agrees with, or outright affirms, our view of TSCA’s core requirements.  On those remaining issues, the Court specifically did not foreclose any of our arguments, making it clear that they could be presented in legal challenges we bring to EPA decisions in risk evaluations and determinations for individual chemicals.

Read on for our analysis.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, TSCA Reform / Also tagged | Comments are closed

New Report: Toxic Consequences – Trump’s Attacks on Chemical Safety Put Our Health at Risk

Sam Lovell, Project Manager.

Today, EDF released a report detailing the major threats to public health and future generations from the Trump Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attacks on the 2016 chemical safety law. Just three years after Congress passed bipartisan legislation, the Lautenberg Act, to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), implementation of the law has gone dangerously off the rails – putting public health at risk.

“At almost every turn, the Trump administration has failed to live up to the letter and spirit of the historic bipartisan reform of TSCA that Congress passed in 2016. Toxic chemicals can cause cancers and other life-threatening illness. The American people expect the Environmental Protection Agency to live up to its mission and to protect them from these threats.  At the three-year anniversary of our overwhelmingly bipartisan reform of TSCA, EPA continues to ignore expert scientific staff and walk back protections for workers and consumers. ” said Senator Tom Udall.  “EPA leaders – starting with Andrew Wheeler – must change course, commit themselves to protecting the public, and carry out the Lautenberg Act as Congress wrote it.”

The report notes that recent history holds countless stark examples of what can happen when chemical risks are not adequately addressed. We risk making similar mistakes unless the current EPA fundamentally changes course in its implementation of the law. The Trump Administration is allowing new chemicals onto the market with little or no health information and only cursory safety reviews; ignoring real-world exposures when evaluating chemicals already in use today; blocking needed restrictions on dangerous uses of toxic chemicals; and denying the public access to health information on chemicals. These are not merely process problems: the consequences of the Trump EPA’s actions will be felt by our children and subsequent generations.

Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, Public Health / Tagged | Comments are closed

The Trump EPA is setting back chemicals policies by decades

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.


Tacoma, WA 1972

As we approach the third anniversary of the historic passage of bipartisan legislation to overhaul our nation’s broken chemical safety system, we’re hearing that political appointees at the agency are gearing up to celebrate their “successes” in implementing the law.

Even more disturbing than its individual actions are the methodical steps the Trump EPA is taking to dismantle decades of progress in our country’s chemicals policies.

While the chemical industry may well have things to celebrate, it’s simply not the case for the rest of us:  Comments from former top EPA officialsmembers of Congressstate and local governments, labor groupsfirefighterswater utilitiespublic health groups, and a broad range of environmental groups make crystal clear that there’s nothing warranting celebration.  EPA’s actions are threatening the health of American families.

But as I reflect on how implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has gone off the rails under the Trump EPA, even more disturbing than its individual actions are the methodical steps it is taking to dismantle decades of progress in our country’s chemicals policies.  In this post, I’ll briefly highlight five such policies and how this EPA is undermining them:

  • Pollution prevention
  • Inherent safety and hazard reduction
  • Protection of vulnerable subpopulations and environmental justice
  • Holistic, real-world risk assessment
  • Public right to know

Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation, TSCA Reform, Worker Safety / Also tagged , , | Read 2 Responses

D.C. Circuit Affirms Public’s Right to Know about Chemicals in Use under Reformed Law

Court strongly rebukes Trump EPA’s unlawful attempts to scale back transparency requirements

(April 26, 2019 – Washington, D.C.) Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit delivered a strong rebuke to the Trump Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the nation’s chemical safety law, protecting key aspects of the public’s right to know about the toxic chemicals in our homes, schools, and workplaces.

The Court agreed with EDF that EPA had failed to require companies to show that the identities of their chemicals cannot be reverse-engineered in order to claim them confidential under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The Court remanded the rule back to EPA to require that companies make this showing to claim confidentiality.  The Court also affirmed that other key TSCA requirements apply to confidentiality claims despite EPA’s failure to include them in its regulations.

“This decision is a significant win for public disclosure and a strong affirmation by the Court of the public’s right to know about the chemicals to which we all are or may be exposed. The Court ruled that EPA must require companies to provide real substantiation for their claims for confidentiality – and that EPA had failed to do so in the rule we challenged,” said Robert Stockman, Senior Attorney at Environmental Defense Fund.  “EPA will now have to require significantly more evidence from companies before they can conceal the identities of chemicals they make and sell.  As a result, fewer such claims will be allowed and workers, consumers and the public will gain access to more information about those chemicals.”

In the case, EDF v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 17-1201), EDF aimed to ensure that EPA upholds the requirements set forth in the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to maximize transparency and public knowledge about which chemicals are currently in use by narrowing the grounds for asserting confidentiality claims and requiring more scrutiny of them.  The Court affirmed that these requirements apply despite EPA’s failure to incorporate them into its regulation.

“A key goal of the reformed chemical safety law is to make more information public about the chemicals we’re exposed to at home, in our workplaces and schools, and through our environment.” said Dr. Richard Denison, Lead Senior Scientist at Environmental Defense Fund. “While the Trump EPA has taken every opportunity to skirt its responsibility and conceal information that the public has a right to know, the Court’s decision today affirms that the law trumps those efforts.”

On some issues, the Court gave deference to EPA in interpreting the law as it did:  EPA’s decision to delay assigning “unique identifiers” to certain chemicals with confidential chemical identities; and its decision to exempt chemicals made only for export from the law’s Inventory notification requirement.  Finally, the Court unfortunately ruled that EPA could in its discretion allow any manufacturer or processor to make a claim for the confidentiality of a chemical, regardless of whether that company had previously made such a claim.  While EDF does not agree with the Court’s characterization of our position, the Court cited the Chevron standard that provides agencies with considerable deference.

For more background on the decision, see the bullets below.  For more information on this and other lawsuits challenging EPA’s implementation of TSCA, see: https://www.edf.org/health/tsca-case-resources. Read More »

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PART 3: Busting more industry-perpetrated myths about new chemicals and worker protection under TSCA

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 1          Part 2         Part 3

I have been blogging in the last few weeks about myths the chemical industry is perpetrating about the adequacy and legality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent reviews of the risks that chemicals just entering the market may present to workers.  In this post, I address another such myth that, unfortunately, EPA has swallowed hook, line, and sinker.  This myth was laid out by one of the industry witnesses at the March 13 House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on EPA’s failures to protect workers from chemical risks.

One wonders when EPA will start doing what Congress told it to do, first in 1976 and then again, with renewed vigor in 2016:  Protect workers under TSCA – using TSCA’s authorities to meet TSCA’s health standard, not OSHA’s.

I’ll get to this third myth in a moment.  But let me first try to crystallize what is at stake in this debate.  While the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has always given EPA authority to regulate workplace risks, the 2016 amendments to TSCA strengthened EPA’s authority and mandate to protect workers.  TSCA now expressly identifies workers as a “potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation.”  See the definition of that term in paragraph 12 here.  TSCA then requires EPA to identify and assess potential risks to such subpopulations when reviewing both new and existing chemicals.  Finally, it requires EPA to use its TSCA authorities to impose restrictions on any chemical found to present an “unreasonable risk” – which is TSCA’s health standard – to any such subpopulation.

In a word, TSCA requires EPA to protect workers under TSCA – using TSCA’s authorities to meet TSCA’s health standard, not OSHA’s.

Both before and after the 2016 TSCA amendments, the chemical industry has sought to compel or convince EPA not to regulate workplaces under TSCA, and instead to defer to OSHA.  Industry wants this because OSHA’s authority and capacity are severely limited and its legal requirements for regulating toxic substances (“health standards” in OSHA parlance) allow vastly greater risks to workers than do TSCA’s (see my previous post).

Sadly, under the Trump EPA, industry is getting its wish.  At industry’s urging, EPA is acting in a manner that is wholly contrary to TSCA – and is less health-protective than even under TSCA before the 2016 reforms.

Now let’s get back to more myth-busting.   Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation, TSCA Reform, Uncategorized, Worker Safety / Also tagged , , | Comments are closed

PART 2: Busting more industry-perpetrated myths about new chemicals and worker protection under TSCA

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 1          Part 2         Part 3

This post shows why the chemical industry has been so anxious to convince EPA to defer to OSHA rather than regulate worker risks from new chemicals under TSCA.

I started blogging last week about myths the chemical industry is perpetrating when it comes to EPA’s review of the risks new chemicals may present to workers.  In this post, I address another such myth, one that the industry promotes to argue why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can and should defer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in addressing the risks posed by new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  This myth was on full display at last week’s House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on EPA’s failures to protect workers from chemical risks.

Myth #2:  OSHA regulations provide ample protection of workers from any exposures to new chemicals EPA is reviewing under TSCA.   Read More »

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