Washington, DC – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to alter its fee collection under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA said the changes would strengthen its ability to implement TSCA in a sustainable way, and improve on-time performance.
‘For the past six years, we’ve lacked the needed resources to build a sustainable chemical safety programme that’s grounded in science, protects communities from dangerous chemicals, and supports innovation,’ said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. ‘We’re continuing to adjust TSCA fees to account for the full costs of running the program the way that Congress intended – in both the 2016 law and in the FY 2022 appropriations bill.’
EPA said that although the reauthorisation of TSCA in 2016 added to its authority and responsibilities, its budget has remained essentially flat since then. While it was also given new authority to collect fees that would offset up to a quarter of TSCA implementation costs, the TSCA fees rule was not finalised until late 2018, and no additional fees collected until the 2019 financial year.
Furthermore, EPA said, the cost basis for the 2018 rule was derived from its pre-2016 spend on TSCA, not that after its remit was expanded. Since the 2018 rule was finalised, even with that low baseline, it still collected only about half of its 25% fee target.
EPA is now proposing to revise its costs estimates based on an analysis made in 2021, informed by experience in administering TSCA since 2016. This also factors in the reasons behind its failure to meet statutory deadlines for nine of the first 10 risk evaluations it made, it said, and the ongoing challenges in meeting requirements when reviewing new chemicals.
Other proposed changes include narrowing some fee exemptions, expanding fee requirements to companies required to submit information for test orders, and modifying the self-identification and reporting requirements for EPA-initiated risk evaluation and test rule fees.
While giving its support to efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the TSCA programme, and the reasonable collection of fees from chemical manufacturers to carry out risk evaluations, the American Chemistry Council is ‘extremely concerned’ about the proposal to hike TSCA fees, and at EPA’s failure to adequately substantiate the costs. ‘For example, EPA proposes increasing the industry fee for a TSCA Section 6 EPA-Initiated Risk Evaluation from $1.35m to an astronomical $5m for each risk evaluation,’ it said. ‘That’s a 276% percent increase from 2018.’
ACC called on EPA to show its calculations, and substantiate TSCA fees and revenue. ‘We strongly urge EPA and its programme offices to develop a more forward-looking and transparent financing model for an effective and efficient TSCA programme,’ it said.
EPA will hold a public webinar on 6 December to provide stakeholders with an overview about the proposed rule. The webinar will also enable the public to comment on the proposed changes. Public comments can also be made online until 17 January.