Selected tags: Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Maybe not surprising, but still upsetting: New report highlights role of election-year politics in OIRA delays

Rachel Shaffer is a research assistant.

Earlier this month, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) completed an investigation into the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) long delays in reviewing proposed and final rules and to offer recommendations for improving the efficiency and transparency of OIRA’s review process. The final report – which was featured in a front page story in the Washington Post – echoes and expands upon concerns we discussed in a previous blog post and a joint letter sent to Senator Blumenthal’s office earlier this year.

ACUS documents that the average time for OIRA reviews has significantly increased in recent years. From 1994-2011, the average review time was 50 days. However, in 2012, the average review time rose to 79 days. And in the first part of 2013, the average review time rose further to 140 days

The reason for these growing delays?  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

NGOs ask Senators to investigate chronic delays in OMB’s review of TSCA regulatory actions

Rachel Shaffer is a research assistant.  Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Last Friday afternoon, we received the discouraging news that EPA has withdrawn two draft rules it had developed under its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authority.  As discussed in our earlier blog post, these proposed rules had been kept in limbo by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), for 1,213 and 619 days, respectively – far longer than the 90-day limit for such reviews set by Executive Order 12866.

Unfortunately, these delays are anything but unique.  OIRA’s reviews of draft rules and other actions now routinely exceed by large margins their mandated deadlines.  Our examination of EPA’s TSCA regulatory agenda over the past several years reveals just how extensive OIRA’s “rulemaking purgatory” has become.  

Since 2009, a total of 33 TSCA-related notices or proposed or final regulatory actions have been submitted to OIRA:

  • Eighteen submissions were proposed or final rules subject to a 90-calendar-day deadline.  Reviews of only six of these rules were completed within this deadline; on average, they have been held at OIRA for over 300 days.
  • The other 15 were advance notices of proposed rulemakings or other notices subject to a 10-working-day deadline.  Of these notices, only one was completed within this deadline; on average, they were kept under review by OIRA for over 70 working days.

Today, EDF, Earthjustice, Union of Concerned Scientists, and League of Conservation Voters sent a letter documenting these delays and expressing our serious concerns to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action.  Our letter emphasized that such delays both prevent the public from providing input in the rulemaking process and limit EPA’s already constrained ability to obtain and share basic safety information on chemicals under TSCA.

Our letter was sent in response to an August 1, 2013, hearing held by that subcommittee, titled Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis, which began a much-needed discussion of the real-world impact of OIRA’s protracted review of proposed regulations.  We urged a further investigation into the causes and consequences of this too-hidden obstruction of the long-established rulemaking process. 

You can read our letter here, and stay tuned for updates in the coming months.

 

Posted in Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , | Comments closed

Stymied at every turn: EPA withdraws two draft TSCA proposals in the face of endless delay at OMB

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

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn two draft rules it had developed under authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA originally sent the proposed rules to the White House for its review way back in 2010 and 2011. 

Despite a clear requirement that White House reviews of draft proposed rules be completed within 90 days, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) [which is part of the Office of Management and Budget, OMB] sat on these two draft proposals for 1,213 and 619 days, respectively.  Faced presumably with the reality that OIRA was never going to let EPA even propose the rules for public comment, EPA decided to withdraw them.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

Smoke and Mirrors: ACC lawyers are working hard to rein in your right to know

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

I’ve blogged here frequently about EPA’s efforts over the past couple of years to make more chemical information available to the public, especially health and safety information.  A key part of this, believe it or not, is simply making sure that when EPA shares a health study with the public – as required by law – you get to know the identity of the chemical that is the subject of that study.

EPA’s initial steps (see below) were met with a little grumbling on the part of the chemical industry, but not a whole lot.  After all, the industry says it wants the public to have more information about chemicals.  At #7 on the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) top 10 principles for TSCA reform is:  “Companies and EPA should work together to enhance public access to chemical health and safety information.”

Times, apparently, have changed.  In recent weeks, ACC has launched a broadside attack on the EPA’s efforts to compel its member companies ever to name a chemical when submitting health and safety information to EPA.  My evidence?  A 36-page White Paper delivered by ACC to the office of the regulatory czar at the Office of Management and Budget, at a meeting held there on January 20.  The ACC document is a wonder of tortured logic, obfuscation and selective renditions of the history of TSCA.

Today, a response was mounted.  EDF and Earthjustice staff, as well as representatives of health-affected individuals, environmental justice communities and workers, held their own meeting with OMB officials.  And we delivered our own letter to OMB that thoroughly rebuts ACC’s White Paper.  It also points out that, way back in 1976, the drafters of TSCA actually wanted you to have access to health and safety information on chemicals – and they darn well didn’t expect you to have to guess at the identity of those chemicalsRead More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

EPA moves chemical reporting into the 21st century – though we’ll have to wait until mid-decade to actually get there

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.  Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

A major initiative of EPA’s toxics office finally made it across the finish line yesterday when EPA posted a pre-publication copy of the final rule upgrading its chemical reporting system under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The process took over 16 months just to get from the draft of the proposed rule to yesterday’s final rule, with EPA having to endure not one but two nearly six-month regulatory reviews by the Office of Management and Budget.

The wait was largely worth it:  EPA’s new program – renamed the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule – significantly advances chemical production and use reporting relative to its predecessor, the more arcane-sounding Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) rule.  Most, though not all, of the critical elements EPA proposed last year made it through to the final rule.  The catch is we’ll have to wait until 2016 for the program to reach its full potential.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Funny name, serious concern: EPA proposes Significant New Use Rule for 14 glymes

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

EPA today proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) that, once finalized, would mandate that companies notify EPA prior to engaging in any “significant new use” of any of the 14 chemicals EPA has identified collectively as glymes.  Among other concerns, EPA has identified their use in various consumer products and their potential to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity.  For most of the glymes, the significant new use would be any use in a consumer product beyond those that are already ongoing.  For two of these chemicals, the significant new use would be any use.

This proposed SNUR, which was mired at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for more than six months, is now out for a 60-day public comment period.  A SNUR is essentially the only means available to EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by which it can try to limit the use of an existing chemical of concern.  It is far from a perfect means of doing so.

Nonetheless, within its limited authority under TSCA, today’s step by EPA brings at least some degree of scrutiny over a quite nasty group of chemicals.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Waiting for Godot: 405 days and counting at OMB on EPA’s modest proposal to identify chemicals of concern under TSCA

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

Yesterday, three legal scholars from the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) sent a letter to Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  That letter rebutted on legal grounds the call made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in its own letter to Mr. Sunstein for OMB to force EPA to withdraw its proposal to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to list chemicals of concern.

EPA’s proposal, which entails use of its clear authority under Section 5(b)(4) of TSCA, has been stalled at OIRA for 405 days as of today, with OIRA refusing even to allow the proposal out for public comment.  I wrote an extensive blog post earlier about all of the reasons why EPA’s proposal is legally sound and makes good market sense.  That post – titled “Why is OMB blocking EPA from using even its limited authority under TSCA?” – went up way back in December, and there’s been no movement on the proposal since then.

CPR’s letter rebuts the Chamber’s claims, noting that it plain and simply “Gets the Law Wrong.”  EDF, too, has developed a legal analysis of EPA’s authority under TSCA to identify and list chemicals of concern, which is fully consistent with CPR’s analysis but goes further to address a few other legal aspects of the issue.  That’s why I’ve decided to post it here.

I’ll leave you to read our memo for the details, but provide its conclusion here as a teaser:

“EPA has clear authority under Section 5(b)(4) to list chemicals of concern and is not required to establish criteria in advance of the issuance of a proposed rule listing specific chemicals.  EPA’s authority also extends to the listing of categories of chemicals.  The legal threshold for action under Section 5(b)(4) should be interpreted as identical to that in Section 4(a), which requires only a “more than theoretical” basis for concluding that a chemical “may present” an unreasonable risk.  Even if Section 5(b)(4) is interpreted to mean something different from that in Section 4(a), it should be interpreted to be far less restrictive than the standard in Section 6.  In addition, Section 5(b)(4) does not require consideration of economic impact in the decision to list a chemical.  Finally, the statute is clear that listing of a chemical in a proposed rule under Section 5(b)(4) triggers export notification under Section 12, and may require the issuance of a SNUR [Significant New Use Rule] with respect to significant new uses of the chemical.”

It’s a sad state of affairs when even this modest step proposed by EPA to use its clear authority under TSCA is not even being allowed by OMB to see the light of day and benefit from public review and comment.

Samuel Beckett’s play, which I borrowed for the title of this post, is described as an absurdist play.  That pretty much sums up the endless review by OMB of EPA’s modest proposal.

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , | Comments closed

A sea of red herrings is behind opposition to EPA’s proposal to enhance chemical reporting

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist. Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

With the chemical industry and now Congressional Republicans mounting a last-minute effort to derail the EPA’s long-time-in-coming enhancements to its Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) rule (see our last post), it’s worth examining their main objections.  That examination reveals a sea of red herrings.  Here are a few of the smelliest ones, discussed in detail in this post:

Red herring #1:  EPA has failed to indicate how it will use the information it collects.

Red herring #2:  Small businesses would be excessively burdened.

Red herring #3:  More frequent reporting is a “needless” burden on the industry.

Red herring #4:  EPA is expanding the IUR from data reporting to data-gathering.

Red herring #5:  EPA’s requirement for retroactive reporting is unfair.

Red herring #6:  Requiring electronic reporting is too inflexible.

Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

House leadership asks White House to scrap IUR enhancements: Where are ACC’s principles now?

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

[Update:  Here are links to the Chairmen's news release and letter to OMB.]

E&E News is reporting (subscription required) that House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton has called on the White House to scrap the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) soon-to-be-issued enhancements to the only routine reporting system for chemicals across the entire federal government.

The final EPA rule would expand EPA’s Inventory Update Reporting (IUR), which requires periodic reporting of chemicals subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on January 20 and is awaiting approval.

Chairman Upton’s move, in the form of a letter to OMB Director Jacob Lew cosigned by Environment and Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, follows closely on the chemical industry’s loud complaints about the rule late last month at the GlobalChem conference, cosponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).  What gives?  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Ripples of REACH: Chemicals policy changes in Japan, Turkey and South Korea

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

The November 31st deadline for the first batch of registrations under REACH (the European Union’s Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) may have passed, but life is far from dull on the international scene of chemicals policy.  As discussed in a previous post, chemicals policy enhancements are ramping up across the globe, many of them mirroring the innovations introduced under REACH.

In this post, we’ll discuss significant advances in Japan, Turkey and South Korea that drive home the message that the ripples from REACH are ever-widening.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy, International | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed
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