Senators seek end to OIRA's review of EPA's chemicals of concern list


Source: Pesticide & Chemical Policy
Related Topics: Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) US Environmental Protection Agency

Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today asked the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to conclude its review of EPA's proposed chemicals of concern list.

EPA sent its proposed rule listing chemicals of concern under TSCA section 5(b)(4) to OIRA on May 12, 2010, "nearly 500 days ago and well beyond the 90 days authorized for OIRA review," the senators note in a Sept. 9 letter to OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein.

Lautenberg, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, and Whitehouse, who chairs the EPW Subcommittee on Oversight, say flaws in TSCA "have prevented EPA from taking even modest steps to collect adequate data on chemical risks or to appropriately manage those risks."

Lautenberg introduced a TSCA reform bill, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, in April; Whitehouse is a co-sponsor.

"However, as Congress works toward reforms of the law, it is important that EPA is allowed to fully utilize its current authorities under TSCA to provide the public with information on chemicals that might pose unreasonable risk," the senators write.

"EPA's scientists have concluded that the substances on its proposed chemicals of concern list could pose such risks," they continue. "With EPA's ability to actually reduce risk from chemicals severely constrained by TSCA, the agency should be permitted to take the modest step of signaling its concern about these chemicals to the public and the market."

The letter does not come as a surprise. Legislative counsel to Lautenberg and Whitehouse met with OIRA staff last month regarding the chemicals of concern list (see P&CP Sept. 6, Page 16).

EPA announced its intention to establish the TSCA section 5(b)(4) list in December 2009 with the release of action plans for four chemical classes: eight phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, perfluorinated compounds and short-chain chlorinated paraffins. The plans for phthalates and PBDEs included proposals to add them to the chemicals of concern list, and subsequent action plans proposed adding bisphenol A, hexabromocyclododecane, and nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethyoxylates to the list as well.

But EPA's proposal has been languishing at OIRA. Industry stakeholders blame a lack of transparency regarding how the concern list was created and the potentially stigmatizing impact of adding a chemical for the proposal's failure to gain traction (see P&CP May 13, Page 1).

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