Regulatory Library

What's Ahead in Environmental Management for 2005?

Contributed by Cynthia A. Challener, Ph.D.
Principal Consultant, C&M Consulting

ChemAlliance recently spoke with contacts in various government agencies and trade associations to determine what regulatory developments, management trends, and “hot” issues will be facing environmental managers in 2005. While no significant “new” issues are expected in 2005, development of a plan for allocating resources still remains critical in order for companies to properly manage their environmental compliance.


For members of both the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), air regulations continue to be a predominant concern. Residual risk, area sources, the Clear Skies legislation, hazardous waste combustion, and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from waste water are just some of the issues that EPA will be taking further action on in 2005.

Initially as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA), EPA promulgated National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations requiring the assessment of emission levels for 188 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and implementation of maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for point sources (facilities) in a wide range of categories. The NESHAP for miscellaneous organic chemicals (MON) not covered by other NESHAP regulations is currently in litigation regarding certain technical issues, but progress is expected to be made in 2005. Implementation of the standard, which will affect organic chemical manufacturers, SOCMA members, the pharmaceutical industry, and most companies utilizing batch operations, will be required by 2007.

“EPA is also faced with addressing the problem of residual risk,” says Ted Cromwell, Managing Director for Environmental Affairs with ACC. “Residual Risk” refers to a requirement of the CAAA which states that EPA must, after MACT is installed on a source for eight years, examine the risk levels remaining at the regulated facilities and determine whether additional controls are necessary to reduce unacceptable residual risk. EPA is currently in the process of promulgating these residual risk standards. “The good news is that EPA is finding very little risk with facilities that have installed control technology,” notes Mr. Cromwell. “Background concentrations of some of these chemicals are still high, however, and often area sources and mobile sources are now the more significant contributors,” he adds. ACC and SOCMA will both be carefully following EPA’s actions for addressing the remaining risk issues and monitoring the potential impact on their members.

SOCMA has also been focused on Subpart YYY compliance, according to the association’s Director of Government Affairs Jeff Gunnulfsen. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to establish New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), which set emission levels for process units that are new or modified. Subpart YYY of the CAAA concerns proposed standards of performance for new stationary sources specifically for VOC emissions from wastewater generated by the synthetic organic chemical manufacturing industry (SOCMI). These standards are expected to be finalized in 2005.

One of the biggest issues being addressed by the ACC is the Clear Skies multi-pollutant legislation that is designed to achieve 70% reduction of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and mercury emissions from electric utilities. “This legislation impacts the chemical industry in several ways,” says Mr. Cromwell. “Coal burning utilities will receive a guarantee of limited additional regulations for 15 years in exchange for upgrading their facilities and dramatically reducing emissions. This guarantee will provide a significant degree of certainty to these utilities that provides incentives for them to upgrade existing coal-fired facilities rather than switch fuels to natural gas. The fact that existing utilities can continue to burn coal is critical to the chemical industry because the demand for natural gas, a key raw material feedstock and energy source for the industry, will be dramatically increased by conversion of these utilities. In addition, the legislation will help the country meet certain requirements for ozone and other air pollutants.” Mr. Cromwell also notes that language in the legislation could also apply to large industrial boilers as well. If facilities can reduce emissions from these boilers, they may be able to participate in an emission trading program. ACC is working with lot of other groups to provide information to EPA and Congress on this issue.


The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) laws have been in place for more than two decades. Much of the regulations generated from these laws rely on the definition of solid waste promulgated by the EPA when it first issued these regulations. Currently EPA is working to clarify the definition of solid waste and streamline the regulations. The changes will impact chemical manufacturers, both large and small, by providing more options for the use of hazardous waste in other processes. “The redefinition of solid waste could afford an excellent opportunity for the chemical industry to generate less hazardous waste because companies will be able to reuse and/or recycle large quantities of waste that currently must be disposed,” says Janice Bryant, Sector Lead for the Specialty-Batch Chemical Sector with EPA’s Sector Strategies Program.

SOCMA is also working with EPA to push through a RCRA burden reduction rule that will benefit its members. ACC is closely following EPA’s activities regarding hazardous waste combustion. The agency is under a court order to issue a final NESHAP rule for the hazardous waste combustion source category in 2005 covering hazardous waste burning industrial boilers, process heaters and hydrochloric acid production furnaces. The agency plans to publish the final regulation in June 2005.


In the area of water regulations, ACC is providing comments to EPA regarding cooling water intake structures. Under certain circumstances, fish can be pulled into the water intake structures. EPA is developing regulations to prevent this situation from occurring, and ACC is actively participating with the agency on the development of the regulations.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure

The requirements for Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans (final rule initially published in July, 2002) still remain in limbo, according to Mr. Gunnulfsen. In May, 2004, the EPA published a notice discussing settlement issues pertaining to the SPCC rule, but SOCMA feels that there are still many areas of the rule that require further clarification. Currently plans must be updated by February 17, 2006 and implemented as soon as possible but no later than August 18, 2006.


For the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), burden reduction provisions relating to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) are of great interest. Previously released proposed changes to the reporting form will provide some administrative relief for NACD members, according to Bill Allmond, Director of Regulatory & Public Affairs for the trade group. In August of 2005, EPA is expected to announce further proposals regarding burden reduction in the actual regulatory requirements themselves. Mr. Allmond expects these changes, which will hopefully take into account comments provided to EPA by NACD in 2004, should provide some benefits to chemical distributors.

NACD is also interested in the progress of litigation over the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). NACD members import a lot of materials and submit many reports to EPA under TSCA. The association is hoping that EPA will make progress on this issue in 2005.


Recently the Department of Transportation revised its regulations pertaining to allowable hours of service for commercial drivers. Several of the changes impact NACD members, including those related to documentation and those related to availability of drivers. NACD is working to provide assistance to its members in responding to these changes.

Chemical Reactivity Hazards

The issue of chemical reactives has become a predominant one for EPA, OSHA and the Chemical Safety Board over the past few years. A recent study completed by the Chemical Safety Board demonstrated that many of the accidents involving chemical reactivity hazards have occurred outside of the major chemical industry and have involved companies that use, handle or store chemicals or manufacture them on a small scale. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), in conjunction with EPA, OSHA, SOCMA, and the ACC, has made available via free online access “Essential Practices for Managing Chemical Reactivity”.

CCPS has several other programs in progress as well. The group has established an alliance with OSHA (sponsored by the same groups, plus NACD and the Chlorine Institute) to develop regulations that will help raise safety awareness around the issue of chemical reactivity hazards, according to Scott Berger, the Director of CCPS. The Reactivity Management Roundtable was formed by CCPS to design tools targeted at companies identified in the Chemical Safety Board study, including distributors, repackers, and blenders, among others. As part of AIChE’s Spring Meeting, the Center will also be presenting an educational workshop in Atlanta, GA in April on chemical reactivity hazards that is designed specifically for chemical handlers.  In-depth treatment of chemical reactivity hazards and other process safety issues will be covered at the large global congress [go to AIChE’s Topical Conferences page and scroll down to Global Congress on Process Safety].

NACD’s Responsible Distribution Process now incorporates management of reactive hazards and also has a system in place that includes 3rd party review of company programs/practices as part of the membership application process. NACD requires all companies applying for membership to demonstrate their commitment to the Responsible Distribution Process by requiring their policies and procedures to first be approved by NACD’s third-part verifier. Ensuring that management practices addressing reactivity hazards are in place is now one such area requiring verification.


According to some observers, legislation on the issue of chemical plant security is also likely to emerge in Congress during the coming year, although the exact form of that legislation is still to be determined. Two bills, introduced but not passed in 2003, probably represent the prototypes for legislation which would emerge. One is the Chemical Security Act of 2003 (Senate Bill 157), introduced by Senator Jon Corzine (D. NJ); the other is the Chemical Facilities Security Act of 2003 (Senate Bill 994), introduced by Senator John Inhofe (R, OK). The two bills take dramatically different approaches to addressing the issue of chemical plant risk, leaving the final form of any legislation up in the air.

Even within existing laws, though, security clashes with environmental management where the issue of community-right-to-know is concerned. Even before 9/11, the US government decided not to post worst case scenarios (generated to meet the requirements of EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) and OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations) online due to concerns about terrorism. “Restrictions on what information to make public is necessary, particularly given the current state of world affairs,” notes Mr. Berger. “However, communities do need to know if facilities in their area are handling substances that can impact them. They also need to know how to respond if an incident does occur. This information can and should be provided even if details of quantity and possible causes of events cannot be shared. It is critical for chemical companies to maintain an awareness of this important need to educate those around them on a regular basis,” he continues.

Environmental Gains Through Innovative Actions

Still awaiting the likely confirmation of Stephen Johnson, who stands to become the third administrator in as many years, the EPA is posed to begin a new and different 4 year period, according to Ms. Bryant. An increased focus on better performance and the actual measurement of that performance will be at the center of the agency’s activities. EPA will also be promoting environmental stewardship and looking to reduce the administrative burden on facilities, individual state agencies, and federal regulators. One program that promotes stewardship, better performance and performance measurement through innovative action is the Sector Strategies Program.

As part of the Sector Strategies Program, Ms. Bryant is the point of contact for the Specialty Batch Chemical Sector and works closely with SOCMA. She works closely with industry to improve its environmental performance and reduce its environmental impacts. “We are collaborating with SOCMA and industry to promote stewardship and encourage companies to take ownership of their environmental performance,” she explains. “The Sector Strategies Program is focusing on continuous improvement and the use of environmental management systems.” For example, Ms. Bryant has worked with SOCMA to develop an Environmental Management Systems Implementation Guide for its members to provide assistance in implementing the Responsible Care® Management System RCMS®. The Specialty-Batch EMS Implementation Guide will help specialty-batch facilities meet the EMS requirements of the RCMS. SOCMA added the Responsible Care® requirements to their training classes for their members. EPA’s Performance Track Program has entered into an agreement with SOCMA and ACC to accept RCMS certified facilities as having met the EMS assessment and implementation criteria for the program.

Ms. Bryant’s office is uniquely positioned to provide assistance to the specialty-batch chemical sector. “We will work closely with the new management at EPA to ensure that the specific issues and challenges of specialty-batch manufacturers are considered. My job is to develop an understanding of the needs of SOCMA and its members and relay that information to regulatory workgroups. We also develop tools and guidance materials that provide practical assistance to the specialty-batch chemical industry,” she notes. The EPA Voluntary Programs Guide is one example of a tool developed in response to requests from batch manufacturers. The Guide summarizes sixteen voluntary programs offered by the EPA. Written specifically for the specialty-batch chemical sector, the Guide is a “one-stop” source of information to help companies identify the right voluntary program for their facility or business, according to Ms. Bryant.

According to NACD’s Bill Allmond, EPA’s outreach to industry by focusing on continuous improvement and management systems assistance is a good example of how industry and government can work together for a cleaner environment. He notes, however, that proposed regulatory burden reduction has been limited to sectors of the chemical industry that have environmental impacts through toxic emissions and waste generation, impacts that typically are not characteristic of chemical distribution facilities. “The challenge for the Performance Track and Sector Strategies Programs is to come up with more creative ways to expand the type of environmental benefits they can offer to chemical distribution facilities through companies’ adherence to Responsible Distribution. Right now, the focus is on manufacturing facilities and how to reduce environmental impacts from manufacturing, not distribution. If they can do that, you will see NACD participate in these well-intentioned EPA programs.”


In recent years, the chemical industry has expressed growing interest in the idea of operating sustainable businesses. In response to this burgeoning interest, the AICHE created the Institute for Sustainability. “Companies are beginning to be more concerned about the triple bottom line,” says the Institute’s Managing Consultant Darlene Schuster. “They want to know how they can meet the requirements of social responsibility and achieve a zero environmental footprint while meeting their economic obligations to their stakeholders.”

Ms. Schuster notes that there is significant interest in how sustainability can be incorporated into an environmental management system.  “Sustainability and Green Engineering: Coming of Age”, a topical conference focusing on the ideas of sustainable engineering and green chemical engineering, will be held at the AIChE’s Spring Meeting also. Presentation sessions and panel discussions will cover management system effectiveness, economic benefits, the business lifecycle and several other topics. “The fact that there are so many people submitting presentations indicated that companies are actively pursuing sustainability programs,” says Ms,. Schuster. “I must stress that we are still at the beginning of the curve, but having said that, there is definitely a significant increase in the level of interest expressed by the chemical industry.”

International Issues

Both Canada and the European Union are involved in developing and/or implementing comprehensive regulations regarding the assessment of risk associated with chemicals. In Canada, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 (CEPA 1999) requires the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health to “categorize” (Section 73, CEPA 1999) and then if necessary, conduct screening assessments (Section 74, CEPA 1999) of substances listed on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) to determine whether they are “toxic” or capable of becoming “toxic” as defined in the Act. The DSL includes substances that were, between January 1, 1984, and December 31, 1986, in Canadian commerce, used for manufacturing purposes, or manufactured in or imported into Canada in a quantity of 100 kg or more in any calendar year.

Health Canada published its ‘Maximal List’ of about 1900 chemicals which it believes may have the potential to cause harm to human health based on manufacture/ import/ use volumes and potential toxicity and has requested comments and input. Environment Canada is requesting comments and test data for close to 22,000 existing chemicals, most of which have been categorized, that it has published on a CD. Further information is likely to be required for chemicals on either list that are categorized as potentially causing harm to the environment or human health. It is also probable that the use of many chemicals will be restricted, regulated or withdrawn from Canadian commerce altogether.

In Europe, the REACH (registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals) proposals have caused great concern regarding the competitiveness of the European chemical industry. Major changes to REACH are expected after the European Parliament conducts a first reading of the current draft, which is likely to occur some time after September. The proposed REACH program would take effect in April 2007 and replace the European Union’s current dangerous substance directive. The program would place more reporting requirements on upstream chemical manufacturers for some 30,000 chemicals.

The U.S. chemical industry is particularly concerned about the impact that Reach will have on global trade, which could affect most U.S. goods exported to the European Union. The fact that the REACH policy also disregards attempts at harmonization of international chemical regulations is also an issue for the U.S. Many in the global chemical industry feel that the European Commission's Reach legislation has seriously harmed the relationship between government, industry and environmental groups, and that much effort will be required to repair the damage, a necessary step before effective progress can be made.

Managing the Issues

Even in a “relatively quiet regulatory year” as 2005 has been described by some, companies in the chemical and process industries face numerous compliance obligations. Environmental managers must maintain awareness of these regulatory requirements as well as current business trends and issues related to environmental performance that might have an impact on their company’s competitive advantage. “Environmental managers must prioritize spending, familiarize themselves with regulatory schedules, and develop a plan for utilizing the resources available to them,” says Mr. Gunnulfsen.

Companies that are aware of regulations as they are developed tend to have more success at meeting their compliance obligations. “Keeping up with the Federal Register and participating in working groups at trade associations can be very productive,” notes Mr. Cromwell. “Advocacy is very important, because companies that are involved can help develop the regulations that meet environmental objectives but in a more cost effective manner. Companies that sit on the sidelines and wait for final rules are usually the ones that have most difficult time. Those that are engaged in the process can see the bigger picture and are able to develop an approach to prioritization. It is even more important for smaller companies to participate, because they have much tighter budgets and fewer resources available to them, but they still have the same compliance obligations.”

ACC, SOCMA and NACD work closely with EPA, other regulatory agencies, and other trade associations in order to provide support for their members. “SOCMA’s advocacy efforts include holding meetings with EPA, providing comments on proposed rules and standards, discussing issues with law makers, working with the National Small Business Assistance Program, and working with other associations,” says Mr. Gunnulfsen. ACC has a very positive relationship with EPA as well. “ACC recognizes the importance of environmental responsibility and wants to develop appropriate regulations that can be cost effective for members and efficacious in protecting the environment,” notes Mr. Cromwell. NACD, too, works closely with various officers within EPA. “We regularly meet with the Agency’s senior-level officials to keep them apprised of how we’re doing from an environmental perspective, particularly on our toxic emissions.”


In closing this review of issues facing environmental managers in 2005, it is fitting to mention that late in 2004 the chemical industry observed the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal, India tragedy. Since that disaster, the industry has worked continuously and in earnest to manage and minimize both the environmental and safety hazards of its facilities. “It is very important to note that there has not been any other accident even close to the order of magnitude of the one that occurred in Bhopal,” says Mr. Berger. The commitment of trade associations like ACC, SOCMA, and NACD and of individual companies has enabled the industry to dramatically improve its environmental performance and reduce its environmental impact. Due diligence on the part of all of these parties will allow for continued success in 2005. Appropriate planning and allocation on the part of individual companies will also ensure that they can manage their environmental compliance and minimize their environmental impact.


Ted Cromwell, Managing Director for Environmental Affairs, American Chemistry Council, 703-741-5246,

Jeff Gunnulfsen, Director, Government Affairs, Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), 202-721-4198,
Dan Cronin, media contact,

Janice Bryant, Sector Lead for the Specialty-Batch Chemical Sector, EPA Sector Strategies Program, 202-566-2956,

Darlene Schuster, Managing Consultant, Institute for Sustainability, 717-225-0301,

Bill Allmond, Director, Regulatory & Public Affairs, National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), 703-527-6223 x 102,

Scott Berger, Director, Center for Chemical Process Safety, 212-591-7237,

About the Author
Cynthia A. Challener ( is Principal Consultant at C&M Consulting ( C & M Consulting offers technical writing, editing and research services to the chemical and allied industries. Services include the development of marketing brochures, technical bulletins, presentations, and feature articles. In addition to her work for ChemAlliance, Dr. Challener has provided services to a wide variety of chemical industry clients, including Chemical Market Reporter, ACS, and SOCMA.

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