Senators Concerned with New Chemical Review Process Changes

August 2, 2018

Six Democratic Senators on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee have sent a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, requesting clarification of the Agency’s reported plans to implement changes to its new chemical review process.

“We understand EPA plans to move forward without public notice and without description in writing the changes [to new chemical reviews] it is making and how they are justified under reformed TSCA,” the Senators said.

“EPA needs to balance the competing objective of conducting both timely and robust reviews of new chemicals,” wrote Sens. Thomas Carper (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The letter from the lawmakers comes on the heels of press reports that EPA had begun to expedite new chemical reviews by limiting the universe of possible uses that Agency staff would consider before making its safety determination.

The possible shift in approach is likely at least partially responsive to industry concerns that the Pre-Manufacture Notification (PMN) process had dramatically slowed after the enactment of the June 2016 TSCA amendments.

As a reminder, under the “old” TSCA, EPA could simply allow the 90-day review period for a PMN to run out and then the manufacturer would be allowed to commercialize and sell the substance.

Under the “new” TSCA, EPA must make an affirmative determination that the chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment, that the Agency has insufficient information to make such a determination, or that the chemical is not likely to present an unreasonable risk. The new requirement that the Agency make an affirmative safety finding has slowed the review and approval process.