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EPA Gathering Comments for TSCA Fees Rule

Monday, January 11, 2021

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At the end of last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released for public comment a proposed set of updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act’s Fees Rule.

The rule requires the EPA to collect fees from chemical manufacturers and processors as a way to help fund the implementation of rules and practices deemed necessary to ensure public and environmental health.

Some Background

The EPA announced that it was looking into the fees in March 2020. The TSCA Fees Rule mandates that manufacturers (including importers) of each chemical prioritized for risk evaluation are responsible for paying the fee associated with those evaluations.

As a first step, the agency extended the comment period by 60 days for the preliminary lists of manufacturers subject to fees associated with EPA-initiated risk evaluations. That comment period ran through March 27.

© iStock / Skyhobo

At the end of last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released for public comment a proposed set of updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act’s Fees Rule.

At the end of March, the EPA announced that it was considering a rule that would look at potential exemptions to the Fees Rule.

“By considering a proposal to narrow the broad scope of the current requirements, the agency could significantly reduce burden on potentially thousands of businesses across the country while maintaining the ability to successfully implement the Lautenberg Act amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act to protect human health and the environment,” the EPA said in a statement at the time.

The agency said then that it planned to initiate a new rulemaking process to consider proposing exemptions to the current rule’s self-identification requirements associated with risk evaluations for manufacturers that:

  • Import the chemical substance in an article;
  • Produce the chemical substance as a byproduct; and
  • Produce or import the chemical substance as an impurity.

The agency said that it could also consider other changes to the rule, which is consistent with TSCA’s requirement to reevaluate the Fees Rule every three years.

Then, in April, the EPA hosted a call with stakeholders that covered:

  • TSCA fees rule requirements and processes associated with EPA-initiated risk evaluations;
  • The EPA’s March 25, rulemaking announcement and “No Action Assurance” and the implications for certain manufacturers who: (1) import a high-priority chemical in an article; (2) produce a high-priority chemical as a byproduct; and (3) produce or import a high-priority chemical as an impurity; and
  • Reporting obligations during the current comment period for the preliminary lists of fee payers (which closed on May 27).

What Now

Now, the proposed changes are released for public comment. Specifically, the proposed updates include:

  • Narrowing the scope of the rule by exempting importers of articles containing a chemical substance, companies that produce a chemical as a byproduct or manufacture or import as an impurity, companies that produce a chemical in de minimus amounts, companies that use chemicals solely for research and development purposes, and companies that manufacture a chemical that is produced as a non-isolated intermediate from fees;
  • Using cost data gathered over the last two years, instead of estimates, to update the fee calculations;
  • Ensuring fees are fairly and appropriately shared across companies by proposing a production-volume based fee allocation and including export-only manufacturers for EPA-initiated risk evaluations;
  • Allowing for corrections to be made to the list of manufacturers subject to fees for EPA-initiated risk evaluations after the final list is published, ensuring the accuracy of the list.
  • Increasing flexibility for companies by extending the amount of time to form consortium to share in fee payments; and
  • Ensuring EPA can fully collect fees and enabling companies to better prepare for paying fees by allowing payments in installments for EPA-initiated and manufacturer-requested risk evaluations.

The EPA is also proposing to add new fee categories associated with new chemical activities.

The EPA is accepting comments in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-0493 and plans to issue the final rule this year.

   

Tagged categories: EPA; EPA; Good Technical Practice; Government; NA; North America; Regulations

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