Web Date: June 19, 2009
EPA Suspends Part Of Chemicals Program
EPA has suspended a key regulatory program that prioritized commercial compounds for further regulatory action.
EPA's move affects part of the Chemical Assessment & Management Program (ChAMP), an initiative begun in 2007 under the Bush Administration. Under ChAMP, which has strong industry backing, the agency is assessing the human health and environmental risks of more than 9,000 chemicals with U.S. production volumes of at least 25,000 lb per year. EPA has a 2012 deadline for completing this work.
The Obama Administration is reviewing the ChAMP program as part of a larger evaluation of EPA's chemicals management efforts. The agency's top officials haven't yet determined how they might update EPA's chemicals program, which includes ChAMP, according to a June 18 statement from the agency. But EPA says it has suspended the development of what are called risk-based prioritizations under ChAMP while this evaluation is going on. The agency offered no further details on its action.
Richard Denison, senior scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, an activist group, says the move by the Obama Administration is an "implicit acknowledgement" that the ChAMP prioritization process needs an overhaul.
Industry reaction to EPA's action ranges broadly from strong criticism to little concern.
"It is extremely disheartening that the administration would abandon its priority-setting chemicals management process before it is even given the opportunity to work," says National Petrochemical & Refiners Association President Charles T. Drevna.
"We urge EPA to not delay the forward progress it has been making under ChAMP," says William Allmond, a vice president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates. "We applaud the agency for wishing to strengthen its chemicals management program, but we're concerned that, in order to do so, they're stopping it altogether."
Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council, a chemical manufacturers' association, says in a statement, "We are confident that any changes to ChAMP do not signal a reversal of the U.S. government's commitment, but rather further strengthen the program."
The agency's action stopped ChAMP activities that divided chemicals into three categories: low priority for compounds that don't present significant issues that warrant EPA action; medium priority for substances of potential concern that could be resolved with more exposure or hazard data; and high priority for chemicals that may need regulation or more risk data.
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