EDF Health

Selected tag(s): Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

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 »

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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.

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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A modest proposal: ACC should support and defend President’s proposed budget increase for EPA chemical safety efforts

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

President Obama unveiled his FY2012 budget yesterday, and the news was rather bleak for EPA:  a proposed 13% decrease.  But one bright spot was a proposed $16.1 million boost in funding for EPA’s chemicals management efforts using its current limited authorities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

That additional funding, according to EPA, is to be directed at activities to further “reduce chemical risks, increase the pace of chemical hazard assessments, and provide the public with greater access to chemical information so they can make better informed decisions about their health.  Learning more about these chemicals will help protect Americans from potential threats to their health.”

What is perhaps most refreshing is EPA’s rationale for its proposal to maintain and enhance its renewed focus on chemical safety (see pages 55-56 of this EPA budget summary):

Chemicals are often released into the environment as a result of their manufacture, processing, use, and disposal. Research shows that children are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before they even are given solid food. Other vulnerable groups, including low-income, minority, and indigenous populations, may also be disproportionately impacted by and thus particularly at risk from chemical exposure.

So, what would the money go to, and how will the chemical industry respond?  Read More »

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