By Lynn L. Bergeson
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safer Choice Program announced on March 28, 2022, that it is accepting submissions for its 2022 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards. 87 Fed. Reg. 17287. EPA states that it developed the Partner of the Year Awards “to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown achievement in the design, manufacture, selection and use of products with safer chemicals, that further outstanding or innovative source reduction.” EPA “especially encourages submission of award applications that show how the applicant’s work in the design, manufacture, selection and use of those products promotes environmental justice, bolsters resilience to the impacts of climate change, results in cleaner air or water, or improves drinking water quality.” According to EPA, all Safer Choice stakeholders and program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition. Interested parties who would like to be considered for the award should submit to EPA information about their accomplishments and contributions during 2021. EPA notes that there is no form associated with this year’s application. EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony in fall 2022. Submissions are due May 31, 2022.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on April 6, 2022, on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget. The only witness was EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. In his written testimony, Regan states that EPA has significant responsibilities under amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ensure the safety of chemicals in or entering commerce and addressing unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. President Biden’s proposed budget would provide $124 million and 449 full-time equivalents (FTE) to implement TSCA, an increase of more than $60 million. According to Regan, these resources will support EPA-initiated chemical risk evaluations, issue protective regulations in accordance with statutory timelines, and establish a pipeline of priority chemicals for risk evaluation. EPA “also has significant responsibility under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to screen new pesticides before they reach the market and ensure pesticides already in commerce are safe.” Regan notes that in addition, EPA is responsible for complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and ensuring that federally endangered and threatened species are not harmed when EPA registers pesticides. The FY 2023 budget includes an additional $4.9 million to enable EPA’s pesticide program to integrate ESA requirements in conducting risk assessments and making risk management decisions that protect federally threatened and endangered species from exposure to new active ingredients.
After Regan gave his opening statement, the Committee asked questions. Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) stated that President Biden requested $124 million and hiring of about 450 FTEs to implement the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act). According to Carper, despite the previous Administration’s failure to request funds to support implementation of the Lautenberg Act, EPA professionals have worked hard to meet the aspirations and mandates of the Act. Carper asked Regan to describe the resource challenges that the TSCA program is currently facing and how EPA plans to fulfill its obligations under the Lautenberg Act if Congress appropriates the increase in resources requested by the Biden Administration. Regan stated that the previous Administration missed nine of ten deadlines for chemical risk review evaluations. Meanwhile, the workload for the Biden EPA has doubled, with 20 high-priority risk evaluations to do and ten risk management rules to write, but EPA is still working with the same budget that it had before the Lautenberg Act. As a result, EPA has only about 50 percent of the resources that it thinks it needs to review the safety of new chemicals quickly and in the way that the law requires. The proposed FY 2023 budget reflects what EPA thinks it will actually take to implement the Lautenberg Act in the way that Congress and stakeholders expect and deserve. According to Regan, EPA would put those resources to good use. EPA wants to keep pace with what Congress requested.
According to Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), the North Dakota Agricultural Commissioner sent a letter to EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) (still waiting for a response) about unused stocks of chlorpyrifos. In August 2021, EPA issued a final rule revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos. Cramer stated that under the final rule, farmers and retailers have six months to dispose of it. To date, there has been very little to no guidance on how to dispose of it, and without guidance from EPA, there is worry about improper disposal or illegal use. Cramer asked Regan if he could provide some assurance that EPA is not going to seek to punish growers that currently have product in their possession. Regan responded that in this case, like others, EPA found itself in a situation where, because of inaction over decades, the court put it on a timeline to take action. Regan stated that he can commit that the EPA regional office is working with North Dakota now to think about how to address the situation.
As Regan noted in his testimony before the Committee, the Lautenberg Act includes statutory deadlines that EPA must meet as it evaluates existing chemicals. In addition to these mandates, after reviewing the risk evaluations completed by the previous Administration, the Biden EPA announced June 30, 2021, its plans to review and address certain issues. The Biden EPA is working to complete its revisions to the final risk evaluations and move to the risk management rulemaking stage. Under the previous Administration, EPA, in 2020 and 2021, directed significant energy to developing risk evaluations for the “Next 20” chemicals designated as high priority for risk evaluations through the TSCA prioritization process, completing scoping documents in September 2020. In light of the Biden Administration’s revised approach to risk evaluations, however, those scoping documents will need to be revisited and revised as appropriate, and work is expected to continue through 2022 and probably much of 2023. EPA also now has received four manufacturer-requested risk evaluations, three of which have been granted as of mid-December 2021, and one of which is pending. Without significant resources, the Biden EPA will struggle to meet the ambitious goals of the Lautenberg Act.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published on April 4, 2022, a request for information (RFI) from interested parties on federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. 87 Fed. Reg. 19539. OSTP notes that “[t]he term “sustainable chemistry” does not have a consensus definition and most uses of the term indicate that it is synonymous with “green chemistry.”” OSTP requests information on the preferred definition for sustainable chemistry. OSTP also seeks comments on how the definition of sustainable chemistry could impact the role of technology, federal policies that may aid or hinder sustainable chemistry initiatives, future research to advance sustainable chemistry, financial and economic considerations, and federal agency efforts. OSTP states that it will use comments provided in response to the RFI to address Subtitle E of Title II of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (Subtitle E), which includes the text of the bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019. Subtitle E directs OSTP “to identify research questions and priorities to promote transformational progress in improving the sustainability of the chemical sciences.” Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on June 3, 2022. Additional Information is available in the B&C’s April 6, 2022, memorandum.
Register now to join B&C for “FIFRA Hot Topics,” a complimentary webinar covering key priorities of Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and what companies should know to avoid market delays. With year one of the Biden Administration’s term in the history books, we have a clearer sense of how EPA is proceeding on all fronts. EPA’s OPP is focusing on long-standing challenges, especially a renewed effort to meet Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation requirements and determining how best to meet core pesticide registration review obligations in 2022. These program priorities must reflect special considerations for environmental justice and climate change, advance critical science and policy issues, develop a fifth Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) implementation framework, and display a renewed commitment to working collaboratively with state partners and other stakeholders to implement the program.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 24, 2022, EPA announced the selection of 11 organizations to receive a total of approximately $2 million in funding to divert food waste from landfills by expanding anaerobic digester capacity nationwide. Anaerobic digestion (AD) produces biogas that can be captured and used for energy production and digestate (a fertilizer product) by using microorganisms to break down organic materials, such as food scraps and manure, in the absence of oxygen. By reducing the amount of wasted food in landfills and consequently methane emissions, AD may reduce significantly the impacts of climate change. EPA’s food recovery hierarchy includes AD as a strategy that is preferable to landfilling and incineration, because it contributes to building a circular economy. Each of the selected organizations will receive between $150,000 and $200,000 over two years. A list of the selected projects is available here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On February 23, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a webinar on requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the premanufacture notice (PMN) process for biofuels. As reported in our January 24, 2022, blog item, in January 2022, EPA announced an effort to streamline the review of new biobased or waste-derived chemicals that could displace current, higher greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting transportation fuels. According to EPA, it has received more than 30 biofuel PMNs “that collectively describe plans for close to 800 million gallons per year of production of advanced biofuels, that could contribute to annual volume mandates under the [Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] program and help support the goals of energy security through increasing domestic production” within the United States. Future webinars will cover the TSCA Inventory, nomenclature, and Bona Fide process; new chemicals risk assessments, including applications of the tools, models, and databases; and new chemicals risk management actions, including TSCA Section 5 orders and significant new use rules (SNUR).
More information on webinar is available in our March 1, 2022, memorandum.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold a virtual public meeting April 20-21, 2022, to seek individual input on the proposed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals Collaborative Research Program. 87 Fed. Reg. 10784. In addition, EPA announced the availability of and is soliciting public comment on the draft document entitled “Modernizing the Process and Bringing Innovative Science to Evaluate New Chemicals Under TSCA.” EPA states that the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is proposing to develop and implement a multi-year collaborative research program focused on approaches for performing risk assessments on new chemical substances under TSCA. According to EPA, the effort will be performed in partnership with its Office of Research and Development (ORD) and other federal entities to leverage their expertise and resources. Written comments are due April 26, 2022. Registration for the meeting is now open.
According to EPA, the research program will refine existing approaches and develop and implement new approach methodologies (NAM) to ensure the best available science is used in TSCA new chemical evaluations. Key areas proposed in the TSCA New Chemicals Collaborative Research Program include:
- Updating OCSPP’s approach to using data from structurally similar chemicals to determine potential risks from new chemicals, also known as read-across. According to EPA, this will increase the efficiency of new chemical reviews, promoting the use of the best available data to protect human health and the environment.
- Digitizing and consolidating information on chemicals to include data and studies that currently exist only in hard copy or in various disparate TSCA databases. EPA will combine the information with publicly available sources to expand the amount of information available, enhancing chemical reviews and enabling efficient sharing of chemical information across EPA. Safeguards for confidential business information (CBI) will be maintained as appropriate in this process.
- Updating and augmenting the models used for predicting a chemical’s physical-chemical properties and environmental fate/transport, hazard, exposure, and toxicokinetics to provide a suite of models to be used for new chemicals assessments. The goal of this effort is to update the models to reflect the best available science, increase transparency, and establish a process for updating these models as science evolves.
- Exploring ways to integrate and apply NAMs in new chemicals assessments, reducing the use of animal testing. EPA states that as this effort evolves, the goal is to develop a suite of accepted, fit-for-purpose NAMs that could be used by external stakeholders for data submissions under TSCA, as well as informing and expanding new chemical categories.
- Developing a decision support tool that integrates the various information streams specifically used for new chemical risk assessments. The decision support tool will integrate more efficiently all the data streams (e.g., chemistry, fate, exposures, hazards) into a final risk assessment and transparently document the decisions and assumptions made. Simply put, this will facilitate the new chemicals program tracking decisions over time and evaluating consistency within and across chemistries.
EPA states that additional information on each of these areas will be provided in the draft collaborative research plan that will be available in the docket by March 14, 2022. Later in 2022, EPA plans to engage its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), a federal advisory committee, for peer review. EPA also intends to issue a Federal Register notice announcing the BOSC meeting and to open a docket for public comments.
Although the notice states that EPA’s background documents and the related supporting materials to the draft are available in the docket established for this meeting, Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2022-0218, nothing is available at this time. EPA states that it will provide additional background documents as the materials become available. After the virtual public meeting, EPA will prepare meeting minutes summarizing the individual comments received at the meeting. EPA will post the meeting minutes on its website and in the relevant docket.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On December 28, 2021, EPA announced that it will hold a public virtual meeting to discuss biofuel greenhouse gas (GHG) modeling. EPA is soliciting information on the current scientific understanding of GHG modeling of land-based biofuels used in the transportation sector. According to EPA, the information gathered during this meeting will be used to inform current and future EPA actions, including the method for quantifying GHG emissions under RFS. Of particular interest to EPA, is input on:
- How to incorporate the best available science into an update of EPA’s biofuels lifecycle analysis (LCA); and
- The next steps EPA should take in this work area.
Hosted by EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality in consultation with USDA and DOE, the virtual public meeting is scheduled for February 28, 2022, and March 1, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST). EPA will also be accepting comments on these topics until April 1, 2022.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On December 10, 2021, the Biden Administration released its Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. According to EPA’s rule list, the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is working on the following rulemakings under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Rulemakings at the proposed stage include:
- Tiered Data Reporting to Inform Prioritization, Risk Evaluation, and Risk Management Under TSCA (2070-AK62): EPA is developing this rule to obtain information about potential hazards and exposure pathways related to certain chemicals, particularly occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure information. EPA states that this information is needed to inform prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management of the chemical substances under TSCA Section 6. EPA intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in July 2022 and a final rule in March 2023. More information on the rulemaking is available in our July 29, 2021, memorandum;
- Revisions to the TSCA Fees Rule (2070-AK64): In January 2021, EPA proposed updates and adjustments to the 2018 TSCA Fees Rule. EPA proposed to add three new fee categories: a Bona Fide Intent to Manufacture or Import Notice, a Notice of Commencement of Manufacture or Import, and an additional fee associated with test orders. In addition, EPA proposed exemptions for entities subject to certain fee triggering activities, including: an exemption for research and development activities; an exemption for entities manufacturing less than 2,500 pounds of a chemical subject to an EPA-initiated risk evaluation fee; an exemption for manufacturers of chemical substances produced as a non-isolated intermediate; and exemptions for manufacturers of a chemical substance subject to an EPA-initiated risk evaluation if the chemical substance is imported in an article, produced as a byproduct, or produced or imported as an impurity. EPA proposed a volume-based fee allocation for EPA-initiated risk evaluation fees in any scenario where a consortium is not formed and proposed to require export-only manufacturers to pay fees for EPA-initiated risk evaluations. EPA states that in light of public comments, it has decided to issue a supplemental proposal and seek additional public comment on changes to the January 2021 proposal. EPA intends to issue a supplemental NPRM in February 2022. EPA has not determined when it will issue a final rule. More information on the proposed rule is available in our December 30, 2020, memorandum;
- New Chemicals Procedural Regulations to Reflect Amendments to TSCA (2070-AK65): This rulemaking seeks to revise the new chemicals procedural regulations in 40 C.F.R. Part 720 to improve the efficiency of EPA’s review process and to align its processes and procedures with the new statutory requirements. According to EPA, this rulemaking seeks to increase the quality of information initially submitted in new chemicals notices and improve its processes “to reduce unnecessary rework in the risk assessment and, ultimately, the length of time that new chemicals are under review.” EPA intends to publish an NPRM in September 2022. EPA has not determined when it will issue a final rule;
- Procedures for Submitting Information Subject to Business Confidentiality Claims Under TSCA (2070-AK68): EPA states that it is considering proposing new and amended rules concerning the assertion and maintenance of claims of business confidentiality (i.e., confidential business information (CBI)) under TSCA. The 2016 TSCA amendments included several new provisions concerning the assertion and EPA review and treatment of confidentiality claims. EPA is considering procedures for submitting and supporting such claims in TSCA submissions, including substantiation requirements, exemptions, electronic reporting enhancements, and maintenance or withdrawal of confidentiality claims. EPA is also considering whether the proposed rule should elaborate on EPA’s procedures for reviewing and communicating with TSCA submitters about confidentiality claims. According to EPA, it expects the proposed rule to include new provisions, as well as revisions to existing rules on asserting confidentiality claims to conform to the 2016 amendments. EPA intends to issue an NPRM in April 2022; and
- Reconsideration of Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation Under the Amended TSCA (2070-AK90): EPA published a final rule on July 20, 2017, that established a process for conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, without consideration of costs or other non-risk factors, including an unreasonable risk to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation, under the conditions of use. This process incorporates the science requirements of the amended statute, including best available science and weight of the scientific evidence. The final rule established the steps of a risk evaluation process, including: scope, hazard assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterization, and risk determination. EPA states that it is now in the process of reconsidering the final rule in keeping with new EOs concerning the advancement of racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government (EO 13985), the protection of public health and the environment and restoring science to tackle the climate crisis (EO 13990), tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad (EO 14008), and other Administration priorities (such as the Presidential memorandum on restoring trust in government through scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking). If EPA determines to amend the 2017 final rule based on its reconsideration, it will solicit public comment through an NPRM. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in September 2022.
The Unified Agenda lists the following TSCA rulemaking at the final stage:
- Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances; Updates to the Hazard Communication Program and Regulatory Framework; Minor Amendments to Reporting Requirements for Premanufacture Notices (PMN) (2070-AJ94): EPA proposed amending components of the Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances regulations at 40 C.F.R. Part 721, specifically the “Protection in the Workplace” (40 C.F.R. Section 721.63) and “Hazard Communication Program” (40 C.F.R. Section 721.72). 81 Fed. Reg. 49598. The proposed changes are intended to align, where possible, EPA’s regulations with the revised Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations at 29 C.F.R. Section 1910.1200. OSHA issued a final rule on March 26, 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 17573), that aligns OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standards with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). EPA states that it is reviewing the comments received and is planning to issue a final rule. EPA intends to issue a final rule in September 2022. More information on EPA’s 2016 proposed rule is available in our July 29, 2016, memorandum.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is pleased to provide our Forecast 2022 to readers of the Biobased and Renewable Products Update, offering our best informed judgment as to the trends and key developments we expect to see in the new year. Global and national policy reforms continue to focus increasingly on a circular economy as a critical part of addressing climate change. In 2022, industry stakeholders can expect the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to announce funding opportunities for efforts focused on the development of novel biobased chemistry. Stakeholders in the biobased chemical industry should also plan to monitor activities on Capitol Hill, including the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act, passed in July 2020 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year (FY) 2021. More details on this, and expected regulatory changes of all varieties, are available in our Forecast for U.S. Federal and International Chemical Regulatory Policy 2022.
“ What to Expect in Chemicals in 2022”
January 26, 2022, 12:00 p.m. EST
B&C will be presenting a complimentary webinar, “What to Expect in Chemicals in 2022,” focusing on themes outlined in the forecast. Join Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner; Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry; and James V. Aidala, Senior Government Affairs Consultant, for this informative and forward-looking webinar.