Upton Asks EPA to Push Back Deadline For Companies to Submit Chemical Data

By Pat Rizzuto  

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Environmental Protection Agency Jan. 13 to postpone by four months a deadline for chemical producers and other manufacturers to submit information mandated under the chemical data reporting rule, saying it is confusing and industry needs more time to digest the changes.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, asked the agency to move the reporting window from Feb. 1-June 1 to June 1-Sept 1.

They said the regulation's requirements are particularly confusing for companies that make chemicals as byproducts of other activities.

Charles Auer, former head of EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, voiced similar concerns about coverage of byproducts during a webinar in September 2011 (181 DEN A-6, 9/19/11).

“Until the chaos caused by EPA over the Chemical Data Reporting rule's implementation is cleared up, a stand-down seems necessary. We urge you to postpone the implementation and compliance deadlines of the Chemical Data Reporting regulation,” Upton and Shimkus wrote.

They asked EPA to respond to their letter by Jan. 20.

At least two trade associations—the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA)—support the Upton-Shimkus request.

EPA said it could not immediately comment on the letter.

EPA revised the rule, formerly called the inventory update reporting rule, in August 2011. It expanded the requirements for reporting data on production volume, use, and exposure for many chemicals widely used in commerce, and makes electronic reporting mandatory (76 Fed. Reg. 50,816; 149 DEN A-3, 8/3/11).

‘Fair, Urgent Questions.'

In the letter, Upton and Shimkus told Jackson: “The people you regulate are asking fair and urgent questions.”

The letter referred to questions and related answers as well as training materials they said were unavailable on a website EPA established to help chemical makers and other companies comply with the rule.

EPA updated sections of its chemical data reporting rule website on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13.

An aide to the committee told Bloomberg BNA some of the newly posted information addressed information the chairmen's letter requested.

But “we cannot confirm that all of [the questions] have been answered and posted. In addition, EPA's responses are not provided in a way that stakeholders (including those who asked the questions) can easily identify them as the information they seek,” the committee aide said.

Upton and Shimkus wrote: “We are concerned that EPA will be enforcing a program it does not fully understand and cannot explain to the people who follow it.”

EPA has agreed to participate in a Jan. 19 workshop on the chemical data reporting rule, Upton and Shimkus said.

“We are worried, though, that this event twelve days before required filings are to commence—will be too little, too late,” they wrote, referring to Feb. 1 start date for the 2012 reporting period.

Concerns About Byproducts, Double Counting

SOCMA spokeswoman Christine Sanchez said the organization supports Upton's request that EPA extend the deadline to provide chemical data.

“The extra months would give companies more time to digest the changes reflected in the final rule and the agency more time to provide guidance and outreach,” Sanchez said.

ACC spokesman Scott Jensen said the ACC also would support the congressmen's request to have additional time to file due to provisions of the regulation that are unclear.

ACC wrote EPA's chemicals office in September 2011, Jensen said. That letter provided examples of provisions—particularly byproducts—that ACC found confusing and cumbersome. Under the system, a chemical could be counted as being manufactured twice, the letter said.

As of Jan. 13, EPA had not addressed the questions and concerns the chemistry council raised in that letter, Jensen said.

For More Information

The chairmen's letter is available at http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Letters/112th/011312%20Letter%20to%20EPA.pdf.

Information about the chemical data reporting rule is available from EPA at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/iur/.

The Jan. 19 workshop is organized by Bergeson & Campbell P.C. and B&C Consortia Management LLC. Information is available at http://www.lawbc.com/news/tsca.