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EPA Withdraws Two Proposals On Chemical Safety

Regulation: Industry praises move, agency claims the rules are no longer needed

by Cheryl Hogue
September 13, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 37

In a victory for the chemical industry, EPA has rescinded plans to propose two new chemical safety regulations.

One rule EPA was considering would have placed bisphenol A, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and eight phthalates on a federal “chemicals of concern” list. The other rule would have barred chemical makers, in most instances, from claiming the identity of a substance as confidential business information in health and safety data they submit to EPA.

Chemical manufacturers, which typically hate government lists that they say stigmatize substances and vigorously protect their trade secrets, opposed both draft proposals under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The American Chemistry Council and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), industry trade groups, praise EPA’s withdrawal action. “Disclosure of chemical identity may be all it takes to give away a competitive advantage,” SOCMA’s Daniel Newton says.

The proposals had been stuck in limbo, undergoing scrutiny at the White House. The chemicals of concern list was pending for more than three years and the confidential business information proposal for 20 months—both way past federal review limits of 120 days. Now, EPA says the two regulations are superseded by its ongoing crackdown on unwarranted trade-secret claims and an effort begun last year to scrutinize and, if needed, regulate a few dozen chemicals currently being marketed.

Environmental advocates say EPA’s move keeps information about potentially toxic chemicals away from the public.


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