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Freedhoff Open to Improvements to TSCA’s Continued Implementation

On January 24, 2024, Michal Freedhoff, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testified on EPA’s implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The purpose of Freedhoff’s testimony was to provide an update on progress made since TSCA was amended in 2016, and to advocate for additional funds to better support the Act’s implementation.

Notably, Freedhoff’s testimony at times paralleled a November 11, 2022, Petition for Rulemaking submitted by James Votaw, Herb Estreicher, and David Fischer on behalf of a coalition of chemical companies. The Petition proposed sweeping amendments to 40 C.F.R. Part 720, the regulations governing Premanufacture Notices (PMNs) under Section 5 of TSCA. 

One of the Petition’s proposed changes would require EPA to rely on data provided by the submitter unless EPA can demonstrate that such data does not represent the best available science. In response to a list of written questions submitted prior to the hearing by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Freedhoff stated in the hearing that the Agency is “absolutely able to commit” to providing more transparency when it chooses to use models over industry-provided data. Similarly, Freedhoff’s testimony reflected other aspects of the Petition’s suggested changes, including ensuring better quality upfront submissions and an overall focus on more timely and efficient new chemical reviews. 

In replying to a question from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on how industry revisions to new chemical applications affect EPA’s ability to meet deadlines, Freedhoff indicated that a portion of Agency re-work is due to companies not knowing what information EPA needs for it to review applications quickly. According to Freedhoff, EPA has tried to do more industry outreach to help companies understand what is needed at the outset for EPA to review chemical applications as quickly as possible. As suggested in the Petition, the Agency could generally grant pre-submission meetings requested by PMN submitters and notify submitters of errors within 15 days of receipt of submissions.

Freedhoff also provided an update on EPA’s management of existing chemicals. Although EPA has released proposed rules to regulate existing chemicals, Freedhoff acknowledged that the Agency has “missed the statutory deadlines for all of the first ten chemical rules.” However, she believes the Agency will meet the statutory deadlines to release final rules within a year of issuing the proposed rules for at least some of the ten chemicals. To further increase efficiency in the multi-year review process, Freedhoff stated that EPA will aim to shift to a five-chemical-per-year risk evaluation prioritization process. 

Freedhoff continued to seek more funding for TSCA implementation – an oft-repeated refrain – despite prodigious proposed increases in the TSCA Fees Rule, which is slated to be finalized in the coming weeks.

Keller and Heckman’s TSCA practice will continue to monitor and report on EPA’s TSCA activities. If you received this message from a colleague and would like to receive TSCA-related notices to your inbox, click here to subscribe to Keller and Heckman’s complimentary TSCA alerts, webinar invitations, as well as related seminar invitations. 

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