Reality Bites: EPA Withdraws Two Draft Chemical Rules

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently withdrew two draft regulations intended to enhance chemical oversight.  Both initiatives had been languishing at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for years, long overstaying their customary (and mandated) 90-day review periods.  The inferences and conclusions that can be drawn from EPA’s decision to withdraw the rules are less noteworthy than the lack of debate over OMB’s actions and the reasons for them.

One rule would have implemented Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5(b)(4) and created a list of “chemicals of concern.”  Despite the clear Congressional authorization for such a list, many in industry feared the creation of yet another “list” of chemicals, each of which would likely have become instant pariahs and victims of deselection, commercial disruption, and tort liability.  The other rule would have diminished the opportunity for chemical manufacturers to claim as confidential business information (CBI) (and thus prevent public disclosure) the chemical identity of substances identified in certain health and safety studies submitted to EPA.

As is required by law and Agency practice, the rules were submitted to OMB for review years ago but had yet to see the light of day.  Despite support from prominent Democrats and the environmental and public health activist communities, the rules appeared stuck on the road to nowhere.

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