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ACC’s chemical prioritization tool: Helpful, but flawed and off the mark for EPA to use without TSCA reform

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

As I noted in my last post, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued its own “prioritization tool” in anticipation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public meetings  to get input on the approach it will use to identify additional chemicals of concern under its Enhanced Chemicals Management Program.

In the context of TSCA reform, various actors in the industry have long called for prioritization, often saying they support EPA’s ability to get off to a quick start on identifying chemicals for further work – only to propose schemes that are more likely to do the opposite.

ACC itself has over time come off as a bit schizophrenic on prioritization, apparently being for it before they were against it.  ACC’s release of its tool puts it squarely back in the pro-prioritization camp, but just what is it proposing?  My sense is it’s after something quite different from what EPA proposes, and frankly, different from what EPA is currently capable of deploying, given its limited authority and resources under TSCA.  In this sense, ACC’s proposal is more relevant in the context of TSCA reform, where we presumably would have an EPA with a mandate to review all chemicals in commerce, the authority to readily get the data it needs, and the resources required to execute the kind of comprehensive prioritization scheme ACC proposes.

But setting that disconnect aside for the moment, let’s delve a bit deeper into the ACC proposal on its own merits.  Read More »

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Avoiding paralysis by analysis: EPA proposes a sensible approach to identifying chemicals of concern

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.  Thanks to my colleagues Jennifer McPartland and Allison Tracy for their analysis of the EPA proposal discussed in this post.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held stakeholder meetings to get public input into the criteria it will use to identify additional chemicals of concern beyond the 11 chemicals or chemical classes it has already identified.  EPA used these meetings (as well as an online forum open until September 14) as an opportunity for the public to respond to a “discussion guide” it issued in August that sets forth draft criteria and identifies data sources it intends to use to look for chemicals that meet the criteria.

The day before the EPA meetings, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued its own “prioritization tool” which lays out its own criteria and ranking system for identifying chemicals of concern.  This post will make a few observations about EPA’s proposal.  My next post will provide a critique of ACC’s proposed tool.

EDF and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition strongly support EPA in this endeavor – both for what it is, and for what it is not.    Read More »

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Why is OMB blocking EPA from using even its limited authority under TSCA?

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

On May 12 of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for its review, which is supposed to be completed within 90 days.  The proposed rule is not considered a major rule, is classified as “not economically significant,” imposes no unfunded mandates and is unequivocally allowed under EPA’s statutory authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The proposed rule would establish a so-called “chemicals of concern” list and populate it with one chemical and two chemical categories.  All of these chemicals are well-studied, already widely identified to be chemicals of significant concern and subject to numerous regulations by governmental bodies both in the U.S. and abroad.

Yet, as of today – more than seven months after receiving the draft of the proposed rule from EPA – OMB has not allowed EPA to release it for public notice and comment.

In 1976, when passing TSCA, Congress gave EPA the express authority to establish and populate a “chemicals of concern” list.  There’s simply no excuse for OMB’s delay.  Read More »

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Not playing nice: The American Chemistry Council solidifies its claim to being the “industry of no”

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

If you had any doubt when reading my post earlier this week that the chemical industry isn’t serious about real TSCA reform, watch American Chemistry Council (ACC) President and CEO Cal Dooley’s hard-line performance at yesterday’s hearing before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (video link at the bottom of this page).  The legislative hearing focused on H.R. 5820, the Rush-Waxman Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 that was introduced last week.

All the themes I struck in my earlier blog post Mr. Dooley played out in spades:  more loud and long complaints aimed at every aspect of the bill; placing the worst possible interpretation on any provision subject to interpretation; playing the China and job-loss cards over and over; and last but not least, offering not a single constructive proposal of his own for reform.

A very different industry voice was also at the witness table, however – Howard Williams, V.P. & General Manager of the Pennsylvania division of Construction Specialties.  Mr. Williams deftly countered all of ACC’s theatrics, embracing all of the bill’s key provisions and making a strong business case for them.  Read More »

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Raising the bar for chemical safety will spur, not stifle, innovation

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

An emerging chemical industry talking point in TSCA reform is the claim that imposing new requirements on new chemicals will somehow stifle innovation.  The milder manifestation of this perspective emanates from those who oppose requiring a safety determination for new chemicals unless they raise major red flags in an initial review.

But some in the industry go further, arguing that even requiring safety data for new chemicals would put the big chill on development of new chemicals.

I beg to differ with both arguments.  This post will make the opposite case, and will also argue that true innovation embraces rather than shuns safety, and demands the information needed to demonstrate it. Read More »

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O Canada!

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

Some time back, I promised a look at whether Canada’s Chemical Management Plan provides a model for TSCA reform.  This post will provide that look.  Bottom line:  While our neighbor to the north has undertaken and accomplished a great deal over the past decade, it has done so with one hand tied behind its back.  Read More »

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