EPA Hosts Federalism Consultation on Upcoming Chemical Regulation Initiatives

(September 16, 2020) –  Per Executive Order 13132, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to convene a federalism consultation for public and stakeholder engagement on particular issues that will have a significant and substantial compliance cost for the regulated community. To fulfill this obligation, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Alexandra Dunn, and several career staff briefed a group of intergovernmental stakeholders on September 9 in an initial planning meeting for what EPA is calling an upcoming “tsunami” of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulations.

EPA held this federalism consultation specifically to discuss stakeholder engagement and the importance of receiving timely feedback in order to meet fast-paced statutory deadlines and obligations. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, enacted in 2016, substantially amended and updated the existing TSCA statute – the first major update in 40 years.

Under the amended statute, EPA is required to review (or re-review) thousands of existing chemicals and issue risk determinations that may require the development and issuance of new regulations to control the manufacture, processing, distribution, conditions of use and disposal of many chemicals.

To kickstart the prioritization process, EPA has established a risk-based screening method and criteria for designating chemicals as high priority or low priority substances and has already identified the first suite of chemicals which were largely based on its 2014 Update to TSCA Workplan.

As EPA moves beyond these identified chemicals and their evaluations, EPA is in the early stages of informing stakeholders of the amended TSCA processes and forecasting the opportunity to provide the Agency with meaningful input on the next suite of chemicals that will go through prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management processes.

Although NACWA has not historically been active on the TSCA front, this is an opportunity to provide critical information to the Agency on existing chemicals (e.g., PFAS) that may have considerable impacts on municipal wastewater treatment operations and residuals management and that may subsequently lead to Clean Water Act requirements.

EPA provided a PowerPoint for NACWA members to review. EPA is also seeking informal feedback by September 23 on the consultation process generally as well as specific chemicals that may warrant particular attention for the next iteration of high or low- priority chemical substances.

NACWA is planning to provide comments to the Agency and if members have specific comments, please contact Emily Remmel by September 21.