The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Effective March 29, 2020, Yvette T. Collazo will be the new Director of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT). Ms. Collazo previously worked for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where she led activities related to federal contracts and agreements of more than $250 million for the cleanup of radiological, industrial, and groundwater hazards resulting from decades of nuclear material production at DOE’s Savannah River facility. Ms. Collazo also served as Senior Advisor and Director for the Office of Technology Innovation and Development at DOE’s Office of Environmental Management. In this capacity, she led the identification and advancement of technologies, processes, and technical practices that improved the performance of waste processing, groundwater and soil, facility decontamination and decommissioning, and nuclear materials projects over their life cycles, from planning to disposal. Starting in 2013, Ms. Collazo served as District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands District Office. As District Director, she was responsible for the delivery of the SBA’s financial assistance, business counseling, entrepreneurial training, and federal contracting programs throughout the District. Ms. Collazo has a Master of Science in Environmental Management from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus.

Tags: EPA, OPPT

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

EPA published a Federal Register notice on March 23, 2020, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice program is accepting submissions for its 2020 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards. 85 Fed. Reg. 16334. 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, furthering outstanding or innovative source reduction. All Safer Choice stakeholders and program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition. Interested parties who would like to be considered for this award should submit to EPA information about their accomplishments and contributions during 2019. 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 that is being planned for fall 2020. Submissions are due May 31, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 18, 2020, EPA published its supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) titled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” in the Federal Register. Per last week’s Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) blog post, the supplemental notice proposes the following changes to the 2018 proposed rulemaking:

  • A scope that applies to influential scientific information and significant regulatory decisions;
     
  • A modified approach to the availability provisions for data and models that would underlie influential scientific information and significant regulatory decisions as well as an alternate approach;
     
  • Clarification on the ability of the EPA Administrator to grant exemptions; and
     
  • Definitions and clarifications that the proposed rule applies to data and models underlying both pivotal science and pivotal regulatory science.

EPA is seeking comment on each of the proposed changes by April 17, 2020. In particular, EPA is asking for feedback on whether this approach may improve consistency between this proposed rulemaking and certain provisions of those statutes that refer to standards for data availability. Interested parties may also wish to review B&C’s March 9, 2020, memorandum on the SNPRM.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 3, 2020, EPA announced that a supplemental notice of the proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) titled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” will be published in the Federal Register in the near future. While the notice would only modify EPA internal procedures, industry stakeholders are asked to comment on the proposed rule during a 30-day period after the date of publication in the Federal Register. The supplemental notice proposes the following changes to the 2018 proposed rulemaking:

  • A scope that applies to influential scientific information and significant regulatory decisions;
  • A modified approach to the availability provisions for data and models that would underlie influential scientific information and significant regulatory decisions as well as an alternate approach;
  • Clarification on the ability of the EPA Administrator to grant exemptions; and
  • Definitions and clarifications that the proposed rule applies to data and models underlying both pivotal science and pivotal regulatory science.

These proposed modifications are in response to some of the public comments received by EPA on the 2018 proposed rulemaking. Under the alternate approach to the use of data and models, EPA will also use restricted studies that are not available to the public. The proposal would apply to reviews of data, models, and studies regardless of when the data and models were generated. EPA plans to identify studies that are given greater consideration and provide a short explanation of why greater consideration was given.

EPA is seeking comment on each of the proposed changes. In particular, EPA is asking for feedback on whether this approach may improve consistency between this proposed rulemaking and certain provisions of those statutes that refer to standards for data availability.

EPA’s announcement includes a pre-publication version of the proposed supplemental rulemaking, which can be accessed here. Interested parties may wish to review Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) March 9, 2020, memorandum on the SNPRM.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that, in support of President Trump’s (R) Executive Order to promote transparency, EPA launched a new guidance portal that provides public access to its guidance documents. According to EPA, the new searchable database will make it easier for the regulated community to find and follow agency guidance. On October 9, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13891, Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents, to promote transparency by ensuring that all active guidance documents are made available to the public. The portal provides an indexed database that allows the public to search for documents based on a range of criteria that include date of issuance, general subject matter, and summary of contents. EPA states that prior to the launch of the portal, it conducted an exhaustive review of its current guidance documents and withdrew those documents that it determined to be no longer relevant. The guidance portal also provides a mechanism for the public to request modification or withdrawal of any documents. EPA notes that it uses guidance documents “to clarify existing obligations for interested parties, but not as a vehicle for implementing new, binding requirements on the public.” According to EPA, it will release by August 28, 2020, a regulation that establishes the processes and procedures for issuance of new guidance documents.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Effective March 15, 2020, Madison Le will join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) as Director of the Chemical Control Division (CCD). Ms. Le will replace Acting Director Lynn Vendinello. Ms. Le is currently Director of the Fuels Compliance Policy Center within the Office of Air and Radiation. In that capacity, Ms. Le manages the implementation of EPA’s national fuels programs, including the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, Tier 3 Gasoline, Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel, and Fuels and Fuel Additives Registration. Prior to working for EPA, Ms. Le worked for California’s Los Angeles County on engineering design projects for municipal solid waste landfills and wastewater treatment plants, including air quality modeling and permitting for stationary and mobile sources. Ms. Le holds an M.S. and B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Southern California.

Tags: EPA, OPPT

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The EPA Pollution Prevention (P2) Grant Program has announced the availability of funds to provide technical assistance (e.g., information, training, tools) to businesses to encourage the development and implementation of source reduction practices. EPA states that source reduction practices can help businesses save money by reducing resource use, expenditures, waste, and liability costs, while at the same time reducing their environmental footprint and helping to protect human health and the environment. Applications for fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2021 are due March 31, 2020.

EPA states that it anticipates awarding approximately $9.38 million in total federal pollution prevention grant funding over a two-year funding cycle ($4.69 million in FY 2020 funds and approximately $4.69 million in FY 2021 funds). According to EPA, P2 grants are expected to be awarded in each EPA region and will be funded in the form of grants or cooperative agreements. EPA provides the following “quick facts” for P2 grants:

  • Eligibility: State governments, colleges, and universities (recognized as instrumentalities of the state), federally recognized tribes, and intertribal consortia;
  • Match requirement: 50 percent match; for tribal governments that place P2 grant activities into a performance partnership grant (PPG) agreement, the match for the tribe is reduced to five percent;
  • Review of applications: Along with other requirements that are noted in the Request for Applications (RFA), applications must address one of the following statutory/regulatory criteria to merit further review:
     
    • Provide technical assistance and/or training to businesses and/or facilities about source reduction techniques to help them adopt and implement source reduction approaches and to increase the development, adoption, and market penetration of greener products and sustainable manufacturing practices; and
       
    • Identify, develop, document, and share P2 best management practices and innovations so this information may inform future technical assistance and these P2 approaches and outcomes may be replicated by others;
       
  • Range of awards: Individual grant awards may potentially be in the range of $40,000 - $500,000 for the two-year funding period (between $20,000 and $250,000 incrementally funded per year). Some EPA regions may have lower award caps, however; and
  • Average number of grants issued: 40.
Tags: EPA, P2, Grant

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Federal enforcement of chemical product laws is alive and well, despite a broadly held misconception to the contrary. We have seen over the past 18 months or so an uptick in federal enforcement under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) writes to alert stakeholders of this fact. B&C believes that this trend will continue in 2020. Check out its memorandum on the topic here.

Tags: TSCA, FIFRA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pollution Prevention (P2) Grant Program has announced the availability of funds to provide technical assistance (e.g., information, training, tools) to businesses to encourage the development and implementation of source reduction practices. EPA states that source reduction practices can help businesses save money by reducing resource use, expenditures, waste, and liability costs, while at the same time reducing their environmental footprint and helping to protect human health and the environment. Applications for fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2021 are due March 31, 2020.

EPA states that it anticipates awarding approximately $9.38 million in total federal pollution prevention grant funding over a two-year funding cycle ($4.69 million in FY 2020 funds and approximately $4.69 million in FY 2021 funds). According to EPA, P2 grants are expected to be awarded in each EPA region and will be funded in the form of grants or cooperative agreements. EPA provides the following “quick facts” for P2 grants:
 

  • Eligibility: State governments, colleges, and universities (recognized as instrumentalities of the state), federally recognized tribes, and intertribal consortia;
     
  • Match requirement: 50 percent match; for tribal governments that place P2 grant activities into a performance partnership grant (PPG) agreement, the match for the tribe is reduced to five percent;
     
  • Review of applications: Along with other requirements that are noted in the Request for Applications (RFA), applications must address one of the following statutory/regulatory criteria to merit further review:
     
    • Provide technical assistance and/or training to businesses/facilities about source reduction techniques to help them adopt and implement source reduction approaches and to increase the development, adoption, and market penetration of greener products and sustainable manufacturing practices; and
       
    • Identify, develop, document, and share P2 best management practices and innovations so that this information may inform future technical assistance and these P2 approaches and outcomes may be replicated by others;
       
  • Range of awards: Individual grant awards may potentially be in the range of $40,000 - $500,000 for the two-year funding period (between $20,000 and $250,000 incrementally funded per year). Some EPA regions may have lower award caps, however; and
     
  • Average number of grants issued: 40.
     

EPA will hold an informational webinar on February 19, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EST).

Tags: EPA, P2

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On January 13, 2020, U.S. Representative Cindy Axne announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has responded to a bipartisan letter submitted by members of the House Biofuels Caucus (HBC) requesting an investigation into misuse of small refinery exemptions (SREs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Submitted in August 2019, the bipartisan letter requested that GAO examine EPA’s review and approval of SRE waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). HBC’s letter also included a request for inspection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) viability scores for SREs reviewed in 2018. HBC’s concerns were mostly related to the economic consequences to rural communities due to the exemption of approximately four billion gallons of fuel from the RFS in 2018. In addition to the aforementioned requests, HBC members asked that GAO also consider the following questions:

  • Has DOE changed the criteria, the interpretation of the criteria, the methodology, or any other significant aspect of how it makes its recommendations to EPA for SREs?
     
  • Other than the viability score provided by DOE, what other factors are being considered by EPA in awarding SRE waivers? How has this changed since the previous Administration?
     
  • Since the development of DOE’s 2011 methodology, what percentage of applications that received a disqualifying viability score from the DOE were granted?
     
  • How many times has DOE recommended a partial waiver for a refinery?
     
  • Has EPA granted a partial waiver?
     
  • Does EPA or DOE consider the economic viability of the parent refiner company when considering an application from an individual refinery?
     
  • Does DOE take Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) into account when assessing relief petitions?

On January 10, 2020, GAO responded to the bipartisan request, agreeing to review matters related to the approval of SRE waivers and stating that it will begin its work shortly. Mark E. Gaffigan, Managing Director of GAO’s Natural Resources and Environment, and his staff will be in charge of the investigation.

In August 2019, Axne had also submitted a letter to EPA’s Acting Inspector General (IG), Charles Sheehan, requesting an investigation of this matter. In its response letter to HBC, GAO stated that it will be in contact with the cognizant IG’s office to ensure that efforts are not duplicated.


 
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