NRDC Moves to Dismiss Petition for Review of New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework

On 27 August 2018, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking to dismiss voluntarily its petition for review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework: Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCANRDC v. EPA, No. 18-25. NRDC petitioned the court on 5 January 2018, for review of EPA’s November 2017 Framework Document. In its petition for review, NRDC described the Framework Document as a final rule, and argued in its May 1, 2018, opening brief that, based on the Framework Document, EPA “limits its review of a new chemical substance to the manufacturer’s intended conditions of use and disregards Congress’s instruction to address risk concerns through enforceable orders and regulations.” On 31 July 2018, EPA filed its opening brief, which included a declaration from Dr. Jeffery Morris, Director of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT). According to Morris, EPA considers the “conditions of use” of the premanufacture notice (PMN) when making determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3). Morris notes that under TSCA Section 3(4), the term “conditions of use” means “the circumstances, as determined by the Administrator, under which a chemical substance is intended, known, or reasonably foreseen to be manufactured, processed, distributed in commerce, used, or disposed of.” Since EPA issued the Framework Document for comment, it has made 150 determinations on PMNs under TSCA Section 5(a)(3), but “has not yet followed the SNUR approach described in the Framework.” For 19 PMNs, EPA determined that the new chemical substance was not likely to present an unreasonable risk. According to EPA, “[f]or none of these determinations did EPA consider whether a significant new use rule had been issued in concluding that unreasonable risk was unlikely.” Additionally, for 131 determinations, EPA made a determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3)(B) related to the sufficiency of information regarding the substance, and then issued orders under TSCA Section 5(e). The basis for a significant number of these determinations was related to the reasonably foreseen conditions of use of the new chemical substance at issue. Notwithstanding EPA’s pronouncement in the Framework Document that it anticipated using significant new use rules in similar cases, “none of these determinations followed that approach.”  NRDC states that, in light of these representations, it “has elected to move for voluntary dismissal of this petition for review.”

National Law Review, 29 August 2018 ;