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

On April 10, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a quarterly update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) confidential business information (CBI) review statistics. The data summarize the number of CBI cases under review and results of completed reviews through March 1, 2020. In addition, a spreadsheet showing the details of completed TSCA CBI determinations through March 1, 2020, is available. EPA states that making this information publicly available “continues to demonstrate the agency’s commitment to transparency while fulfilling its responsibilities under the Lautenberg Act amendments to TSCA.” According to EPA, it has established “numerous new processes, systems, and procedures to enable submitters to provide the information required when making confidentiality claims and to facilitate EPA’s review, and where applicable, determinations on these claims.” The updated statistics show EPA’s progress toward meeting these requirements.

Tags: EPA, TSCA, CBI

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

EPA announced on April 2, 2020, that it sent a letter to all members of Congress to correct the record on its temporary policy regarding enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA states that “[a]s should be apparent to anyone who reads the policy, allegations that EPA ‘will cease all enforcement actions during the coronavirus pandemic’ and that the temporary policy ‘absolves polluters of all responsibility’ are simply not true.” According to EPA, it expects regulated entities to comply with all obligations, and if they do not, EPA emphasizes that the policy states EPA will consider the pandemic, on a case-by-case basis, when determining an appropriate response. Furthermore, in cases that may involve acute risks, or imminent threats, or failure of pollution control or other equipment that may result in exceedances, “EPA’s willingness to provide even that consideration is conditioned on the facility contacting the appropriate EPA region, or authorized state or tribe, to allow regulators to work with that facility to mitigate or eliminate such risks or threats.”

EPA states that it is “not unusual for EPA to exercise enforcement discretion to address emergency situations that disrupt normal operations, such as hurricanes. What is unusual is that the current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affects the entire nation,” rather than a discrete geographic area. According to EPA, it developed the temporary policy to allow it to prioritize its resources to respond to acute risks and imminent threats, rather than making case-by-case determinations regarding routine monitoring and reporting. EPA notes that the development of the policy was a group effort, involving “multiple calls” and with “drafts shared among EPA staff and managers, both career and political, at both headquarters and in the regions.” Once the COVID-19 threat has ended, “EPA expects regulated facilities to comply with regulatory requirements, where reasonably practicable, and to return to compliance as quickly as possible.” Additionally, according to EPA, “the policy makes clear that EPA expects operators of public water systems to continue normal operations and maintenance during this time, as well as required sampling, to ensure the safety of vital drinking water supplies.”

More information on EPA’s temporary policy is available in our March 27, 2020, blog item, “EPA Announces Temporary Enforcement Discretion Policy.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

EPA announced on March 26, 2020, a temporary policy regarding enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA states that its temporary enforcement discretion policy applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. The policy addresses different categories of noncompliance differently. For example, according to EPA, it “does not expect to seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic but does expect operators of public water systems to continue to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies.” The policy describes the steps that regulated facilities should take to qualify for enforcement discretion. To be eligible for enforcement discretion, the policy requires facilities to document decisions made to prevent or mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

EPA notes that its policy does not provide leniency for intentional criminal violations of law and that it does not apply to activities that are carried out under Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action enforcement instruments. EPA states that it will address these matters in separate communications. The policy states that it does not apply to imports. According to the policy, EPA is “especially concerned about pesticide products entering the United States, or produced, manufactured, distributed in the United States, that claim to address COVID-19 impacts.” EPA “expects to focus on ensuring compliance with requirements applicable to these products to ensure protection of public health.”

The policy will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, 2020. EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary policy on a regular basis and will update it if EPA determines modifications are necessary. To provide fair and sufficient notice to the public, EPA states that it will post a notification on its website at least seven days prior to terminating the temporary policy.

On March 30, 2020, the EPA issued a Press Release to clarify this Temporary Policy. The impetus for the Press Release was based, according to EPA, on the “reckless propaganda” by certain news outlets that provided erroneous or exaggerated information about the Temporary Policy, particularly that the Temporary Policy is providing a blanket waiver of environmental requirements or is creating a presumption that the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of noncompliance.

EPA’s Press Release outlines certain elements of the Temporary Policy that should not be overlooked:

  • The Temporary Policy states that EPA will not seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting requirements, if, on a case-by-case basis, EPA agrees that such noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Policy is not intended to cover:
     
    • Exceedances of pollutant limitations in permits, regulations, and statutes.
       
    • Cases which may involve acute risks or imminent threats, or failure of pollution control or other equipment that may result in exceedances, except in possible circumstances where the facility contacts the appropriate EPA region, or authorized state or tribe, and allows regulators to work with that facility to mitigate or eliminate such risks or threats.
       
    • Normal operations and maintenance of public water systems and required sampling of vital drinking water supplies.
       
  • Regulated parties must document the basis for any claim that the pandemic prevented them from conducting that routine monitoring and reporting and present it to EPA upon request. EPA states that it is using this approach to allow EPA to prioritize its resources and respond to acute risks and imminent threats, rather than making up-front case-by-case determinations regarding routine monitoring and reporting requirements.

EPA notes that it expects regulated facilities to comply with regulatory requirements, where reasonably practicable, and to return to compliance as quickly as possible, once the COVID-19 threat is over. EPA states that it plans to lift the measures of the Temporary Policy as soon as normal operations can resume, which may occur sooner in some locations than others.


 

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

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 5, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking grant applications through the Source Reduction Assistance Grant Program from states, federally recognized tribes, universities, local governments, and other groups to support innovative solutions for source reduction or pollution prevention (P2) through research, education, training, or certain other methods. EPA notes that as it highlights chemical safety during the month of March, “these grants support that goal by providing information, training, and tools to improve public health and the surrounding environment, reduce pollutants, and decrease resource use (e.g., water and energy).” EPA anticipates awarding individual grants in the range of $20,000 - $200,000 for a two-year funding period (or between $10,000 and $100,000 per year), though award amounts may vary based on EPA region. EPA anticipates awarding 20 grants in total. EPA states that grant applications should focus on at least one of the following P2 priority areas, also referred to as National Emphasis Areas (NEA) that support several of the EPA’s Smart Sectors. Through these grants, technical assistance and projects should encourage businesses to identify, develop, and adopt P2 practices and reduce waste in the following sectors:

  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing and Processing (NEA #1);
  • Chemical Manufacturing, Processing, and Formulation (NEA #2);
  • Automotive Manufacturing and Maintenance (NEA #3);
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing and Maintenance (NEA #4); and
  • Metal Manufacturing and Fabrication (NEA #5).

Proposals are due by April 30, 2020. Additional information is available on www.grants.gov, under Funding Opportunity Announcement EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-002.

Tags: EPA, Grant, P2

 

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

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

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

 
 1 2 3 >  Last ›