Wednesday, December 16, 2009

As Promised, USEPA Sends First Chemical Action Plans to OMB for Review

As promised by Steve Owens at the November 17, 2009 hearing on TSCA chemical control in the House, the USEPA has now sent for White House review the first six of its “action plans” for addressing chemicals of concern under the authority of the existing toxic chemical law. This is the first of a series of steps taken by USEPA as it more aggressively uses its current authority while waiting for a new law to be enacted by Congress.

As is the standard procedure, USEPA first sends the action plans to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB), which it did on December 14th. As Owens previously noted, the action plans are designed to "outline the risks that use of these chemicals may present and what steps we may take to address those concerns."

According to USEPA's web site, the initial six chemicals being evaluated are:

* Benzidine dyes and pigments
* Bisphenol A (BPA)
* Penta, octa, and decabromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in products
* Perfluorinated chemicals
* Phthalates
* Short-chain chlorinated paraffins

Once the plans are published, USEPA would then engage with stakeholders (both manufacturers, users, and the public) to prioritize additional chemicals for evaluation. The goal is to make new action plans available to the public every four months. The final result of the reviews could lead to labeling requirements, restrictions and bans under section 6 of TSCA, and other actions as appropriate.

Needless to say, industry is less than thrilled about USEPA exerting their existing TSCA authority and, in fact, there is the possibility that industry could argue USEPA has overreached that authority. However, industry must be careful if they choose to fight the USEPA's actions, as it may have the reverse effect of demonstrating to US lawmakers the urgency of a need to modernize TSCA into something that puts much more of the onus for proving chemical safety onto the companies that manufacture the chemicals.

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