February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

Error message

  • Warning: Undefined variable $settings in include_once() (line 135 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/default/settings.php).
  • Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include_once() (line 135 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/default/settings.php).
Advertisement

February 03, 2023

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

February 02, 2023

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

EPA Hints at Critical Changes to TSCA PFAS Reporting Rule, Seeks Comment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) June 2021 proposal of a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reporting rule targeting manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) sparked a major outcry from chemical manufacturers and article importers. 86 Fed. Reg. 33926 (June 28, 2021). EPA acknowledged that its proposed rule would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than EPA originally estimated. Last week, EPA issued an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IFRA) that previews critical changes to the rule as proposed. 87 Fed. Reg. 72439 (Nov. 25, 2022). EPA requested comment on the IFRA by December 27, 2022. EPA faces a statutory deadline to finalize the PFAS reporting rule by December 31, 2022. Last week’s announcement likely signals that EPA will not meet that deadline.

EPA Acknowledges High Compliance Costs With PFAS Reporting Rule as Proposed

When EPA proposed the PFAS reporting rule, it estimated the social costs of implementation of approximately $10.8 million. In the IFRA, EPA revised that estimate to over $875 million, an 80-fold increase. Of the revised cost estimate, nearly all is expected to be borne by article importers, with only about $10 million to be borne by chemical manufacturers.

Potential Changes to PFAS Reporting Rule

Due in part to the revised cost increases, EPA indicated that it is considering certain changes to the proposed PFAS reporting rule, which were recommended by a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel that EPA convened. EPA requested comments on each of the following potential changes. Some potential changes appear to be overlapping or mutually exclusive, so that EPA may pick and choose among them.

  • Limiting the scope of PFAS covered by the rule to a finite list. The rule, as originally proposed, would cover a potentially limitless universe of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances containing certain structural elements described in the rule. EPA is considering revising the rule to be limited to, for example, the 578 PFAS listed on the non-confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory or are subject to low volume exemptions in which the specific chemical identity was not claimed as confidential.

  • Incorporating an annual reporting threshold. The proposed rule does not contain a volume threshold, meaning that, for example, the import of a single article containing a minute quantity of PFAS may trigger reporting obligations. EPA is considering imposing an annual reporting threshold of either 2,500 or 25,000 pounds per year.

  • Simplified reporting forms. EPA is considering removing some required reporting elements for certain companies that are required to report. The simplified reporting would apply to research and development substances manufactured in volumes less than 10 kilograms per year or substances imported as part of an article.

  • Incorporating common TSCA exemptions. EPA is also considering exemptions that apply to byproducts, impurities, recyclers, intermediates, and research and development substances.

  • Eased burdens for small businesses. EPA is considering an exemption for businesses that do not exceed an annual sales threshold. EPA is currently considering annual sales thresholds of $2 million, $6 million, and $12 million. EPA is separately considering a longer reporting timeline for businesses that do not exceed an annual sales threshold (but are not covered by a blanket exemption).

EPA Comments on “Known or Reasonably Ascertainable” Standard

The rule, as proposed, would only require reporting activities “known to or reasonably ascertainable by” the submitter. Thus, in the IFRA, EPA acknowledged that “it is reasonable that some importers would not know or ascertain that there is reportable PFAS in their imported articles and would therefore not be subject to report.” EPA does not appear to be second-guessing this standard. However, the question remains: how much due diligence is sufficient to satisfy the rule?

EPA offered the following comments in the IFRA:

Submitters need not conduct extensive supply chain surveys. That is, they need not conduct a new survey of their suppliers by sending out a comprehensive set of identical questions to multiple suppliers for a given article type to fulfill the rule’s reporting standard. However, fulfilling the reporting standard may entail inquiries outside the organization (e.g., contacting first tier/immediate suppliers, major suppliers, examining a supplier’s public website) to fill in the gaps in the submitter’s knowledge, where the submitter’s current knowledge is less than what a “reasonable person similarly situated might be expected to possess, control, or know.”

EPA separately reiterated its previous comments that chemical testing on articles would not be part of the expected due diligence under the rule.

Conclusions

The PFAS reporting rule will bear enormous compliance costs if not amended prior to finalization. Manufacturers and article importers should consider submitting comments supporting the changes suggested by the SBAR Panel.

© 2023 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 332
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Ryan J. Carra Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

A Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry compliments Ryan's law practice.

Ryan uses his extensive technical background to counsel clients in the chemicals, products, and energy sectors regarding environmental regulatory issues. Ryan’s experience includes:

  • Advising clients on Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) matters, including implementation of the 2016 reform legislation.
  • Advising product manufacturers, retailers, and other clients on extended producer responsibility, waste classification, chemical hazard classification, chemical notification...
202-789-6059
Mark N. Duvall Chemicals Regulation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Mark has over two decades of experience working in-house at large chemical companies. 

His focus is product regulation at the federal, state, and international levels across a wide range of programs, and occupational safety and health.

He leads the firm’s Chemicals group. His experience under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) includes enforcement actions, counseling, rulemaking, advocacy, and legislative actions. Since the enactment of TSCA amendments in 2016, he has been heavily involved in advocacy, compliance activity, and litigation arising from EPA's implementation...

202-789-6090
Nessa Coppinger Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Nessa focuses her practice on complex environmental litigation, including multi-district litigation and multi-party product liability.

Clients rely on Nessa to help them solve their most complicated, expensive, and intractable problems. She has led significant trial court and appellate matters, including federal appeals, to a successful conclusion. She has experience with a range of high-stakes litigation, including mass environmental claims, coordinated litigation with federal government entities, class action, and single-party litigation. Nessa also counsels on and litigates...

202-789-6053
K. Russell LaMotte Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Russ helps global companies navigate international environmental regulatory regimes and develop product compliance and market-access strategies.

He served for over ten years as an international lawyer at the United States Department of State, representing the U.S. Government in designing, negotiating, or implementing most of the major multilateral environmental and oceans agreements. His experience and representative matters include: 

Chemicals, Substances in Articles, and Product-Related Environmental Compliance

  • Advising chemicals, pesticides,...
202-789-6080
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement