EPA pulls back chemical regs

The Environmental Protection Agency is withdrawing a pair of regulations drafted to boost oversight of dangerous chemicals, they agency said Friday.

The rules include a years-old initiative to compile a federal “chemicals of concern” list and confidentiality rules for new chemical submittals. The regulations were being pursued under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

EPA officials deemed the rules “no longer necessary,” according to a statement citing other steps taken to further the same goals. 

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) heralded the decision to pull the regulations back.

“The proposals were rendered unnecessary when EPA wisely chose to adopt a better approach for prioritizing chemicals and reviewing claims for confidential chemical information under TSCA,” the ACC said in a statement.

Sent to the White House in 2010, the chemicals of concern rule would have added bisphenol A (BPA) and a host of other chemicals to the EPA’s list of substances that present unreasonable safety risks to the public and the environment.

“EPA is concerned that the hazards of these substances and the magnitude of human and/or environmental exposure indicates that they may present an unreasonable risk to human health and/or the environment,” the agency wrote.

As the rule awaited final review at the Office of Management and Budget, the EPA developed a separate “work plan” involving risk assessments for more than 80 chemicals. Five of the assessments have been issued for public comment, and the agency expects to have begun all of the assessments by 2017.

“As such, EPA is withdrawing a proposed rule ... that lists chemicals that may be of concern,” the agency announced.

The proposed rule on confidential information would have added new restrictions on industry efforts to keep information about new chemicals out of publicly available research.

“Chemical identity is part of a health and safety study,” the EPA argued in 2011.

But in withdrawing the rule, the agency concluded that limiting industry’s confidential business information claims would have a chilling effect on the submissions of the studies.