Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
A coalition of health, labor, environmental and environmental justice groups (including EDF), represented by Earthjustice, filed a petition today with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requests EPA establish a limit on how long information on chemicals submitted and claimed confidential by the chemical industry under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) can be protected from disclosure.
The petition asks EPA to close a loophole in its current regulations that by default grants indefinite protection for nearly all chemical information claimed confidential. Because EPA’s only option under its current regulations is to challenge these claims on a case-by-case basis, industry bears no responsibility to ensure that its claims remain valid over time. The lack of any expiration date for such claims has contributed to a large backlog of excessive and often unwarranted claims – the protection of which imposes large costs on EPA and the American taxpayer and denies public and market access to information that could lead to better-informed decisions about chemicals.
The petition filed today offers a simple solution, one called for in virtually every internal and external review of EPA trade secret policy conducted over the last several decades (see list at the end of this post): EPA should alter its regulations to create a “sunset” for confidential business information (CBI) claims, which would expire after a set period of time (5 years is proposed) unless the claimant shows that continued protection is warranted. This approach would allow true trade secrets to continue to be protected while providing public access to information that no longer warrants trade secret protection. Read More