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Policy

Five-Year Limit Sought For Trade-Secret Claims

by Cheryl Hogue
August 25, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 34

EPA should place a five-year, renewable limit on trade-secret claims under the federal law governing the manufacture of chemicals, according to environmental, labor, and public health groups. They are petitioning the agency for a regulation that would establish a time restriction on confidential business information assertions made under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under the plan, companies could renew their confidentiality claims by substantiating the need for continued protection of the information, which may include chemical identity and production levels, from public disclosure. Otherwise, the information would be made available to the public after the five years. Current TSCA regulations do not require businesses to resubstantiate their confidentiality claims, so these protections can remain in place indefinitely unless a company voluntarily asks EPA to lift them. The petitioners point out that several reviews of the TSCA program done over the past 20 years recommend that the agency place time limits on these assertions. Industry acknowledges that in some cases claims become unnecessary over time. EPA has not yet responded to the petition, which was filed on Aug. 21.

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