Federal/EPA Regulatory Policy
Last year was full of surprises, two of which will drive much of the agenda in 2017 for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). First, Congress significantly amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Although many thought the chances of successful TSCA legislation were slim, the second surprise event was even more unexpected — the election of Donald Trump as President.
“Next Generation Compliance” is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) signature initiative intended to increase compliance with environmental regulations by using advances in pollution monitoring and information technology and by more effectively using and designing regulations and permits to reduce pollution and enhance compliance. This column describes EPA’s initiative, discusses several examples of its applications in rulemakings and civil enforcement settlements, discusses another new compliance-related tool, eDisclosure, and outlines the implications for industry of these novel approaches to incentivizing compliance.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its brisk pace to be on target with implementing the new requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (see “Grasp the Gravity of the New TSCA,” and “EPA Releases Q&As on New TSCA”). Congress has in its sights persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals — with the goal to reduce exposures to them. The EPA’s recent action to fast track review of five such chemicals does just that. Here’s what the EPA announced, and its impact on industry.
On September 2, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released additional guidance on its implementation of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the form of additional questions and answers (Q&As). This column explains the significance of this guidance.
On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, ushering in a significantly enhanced, and effective immediately, chemical management law. (See “Grasp the Gravity of the New TSCA.")
The EPA has wasted no time in beginning the challenging process of implementing the law. This first step consists of preparing rulemakings and issuing guidance documents in the form of useful Q&As on a variety of topics.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made much of its “Next Generation Compliance” initiative, created “to increase compliance with environmental regulations by using advances in pollutant monitoring and information technology combined with a focus on designing more effective regulations and permits to reduce pollution.” This involves more effective regulations and permits that include built-in compliance mechanisms, such as continuous monitoring for stationary sources; advanced monitoring, including fence-line monitoring and infrared camera systems; greater transparency, including public availability of electronic data and third-party audits; and “innovative” enforcement, including incorporating these elements in administrative and judicial settlements and injunctive relief demands. This column briefly outlines these new initiatives so Chemical Processing readers can take advantage of these programs.
It is the author’s view that the central failing of old TSCA was its inability to produce the testing needed by EPA to assess and understand the hazards, exposures, and risks of existing chemicals. New TSCA makes important changes to the authority available to EPA to compel industry to generate the information needed by EPA to meet the purposes articulated under the new law. This paper briefly reviews the issues and problems that EPA encountered in using old TSCA for this purpose, discusses the improvements in new TSCA, and discusses why the author believes they offer the potential of future success in the testing area.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act significantly amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), particularly with regard to Section 8 record keeping and reporting obligations. This article highlights a number of important changes and deadlines of which companies subject to TSCA should be aware.
On January 26, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide general permit (PGP) for public comment. The publication marks the first reissuance of the PGP since its inception in 2011. The Sixth Circuit’s decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA, F.3d 927 (6th Cir. 2009), which vacated EPA’s 2007 rule exempting pesticides from NPDES permitting, required EPA to issue the PGP. In October 2011, EPA published a five-year PGP, which expires on October 31, 2016. Additionally, all states with delegated NPDES program authority developed and issued state versions of the PGP.
PUBLIC CONCERNS LEAD TO CHEMICAL LAW
In the 1960s and early to mid-1970s, new reports of chemicals causing cancer appeared in the press or on TV almost every month. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used in electrical transformers for over 40 years, were being found in fish and environmental samples from around the country. Other chemicals, including those not thought to be harmful, caused serious health or environmental effects. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were depleting the earth’s protective ozone layer. Asbestos, a mineral fiber widely used in insulation, caused lung cancer, especially in workers. Polybrominated biphenyls used as flame retardants were mistakenly mixed into animal feed and poisoned people and cattle in Michigan. Eating fish contaminated with mercury caused a severe neurological syndrome in adults as well as birth defects in Minamata, Japan. And the list went on.
Although society reaps enormous benefits from chemicals, there was little or no knowledge of the effects on health or the environment of the thousands of chemicals used and released into the environment. There was not even a list of the chemicals made and used in America. The drumbeat of concerns contributed to a growing realization that environmental chemicals might cause major problems. People were suddenly aware that a man-made chemical environment of unknown dimensions literally surrounded them. Other studies pointed to the large gap in existing laws for dealing with these problems. During the 1970s, the groundswell of public concern resulted in legislative action.
Biotechnology is an area of growing domestic and international importance to the manufacturing sector, and this summer the federal government announced several important biotechnology initiatives of which stakeholders should be aware. This article from the Winter, 2015, issue of Environmental Quality Management explains each initiative, and outlines why stakeholders are encouraged to engage in each one.