On April 29, 2022, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies held a hearing on President Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In his written testimonyEPA Administrator Michael S. Regan notes that “[c]Chemicals and toxic substances are ubiquitous in our daily lives and are often released into the environment during their manufacture, processing, use or disposal. Regan acknowledges that the EPA has “significant responsibilities” under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century (Lautenberg Act) amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ensure the safety of chemicals in or entering commerce and to address risks to human health or the environment. The budget would provide $124 million and 449 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to implement TSCA, an increase of more than $60 million. According to Regan,[t]These resources will support EPA-initiated chemical risk assessments, issue protective regulations in accordance with regulatory timelines, and establish a pipeline of priority chemicals for risk assessment. Regan says the EPA also has “a significant responsibility under the Federal Insecticides, Fungicides, and Rodenticides Act (FIFRA) to screen new pesticides before they reach the market and ensure that pesticides already on the market are safe”. He notes that in addition, the EPA is responsible for complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and ensuring that federally endangered and threatened species are not harmed when the EPA registers pesticides. The proposed AF 2023 The budget includes an additional $4.9 million to enable the pesticide program to incorporate ESA requirements into conducting risk assessments and making risk management decisions that protect threatened and endangered species. of disappearance at the federal level against exposure to new active ingredients.
After Regan made his opening statement, the subcommittee asked questions. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), chair of the subcommittee, asked Regan to discuss current and future EPA work on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Regan said that since the release of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap in October 2021, the EPA launched regulations that would designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The EPA has developed the National PFAS testing strategy under TSCA to increase its understanding of the impacts of different categories of PFAS, including potential hazards to human health and the environment. The EPA also began developing regulations to establish a National Primary Drinking Water Rule (NPDWR) for PFOA and PFOS that would set enforceable limits.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) asked about the delays in getting the TSCA back on track under the previous administration, what the EPA is doing about it, and what Congress can do to help the EPA to fix it. Regan described the Lautenberg Act as a great example of bipartisan work to tackle some of the most dangerous chemicals in the United States. After TSCA reform was put in place, the previous administration did not request additional resources or put in place a plan to implement the Lautenberg Act as directed by Congress. According to Regan, this is why the EPA missed nine of the first ten chemical risk assessment deadlines. The Biden administration found itself in a situation where the EPA had not been funded to do the work requested by Congress. That’s why the EPA only has about 50% of the resources it thinks it needs to review the safety of new chemicals as quickly as possible, not only to follow the law as Congress has demanded, but as the private sector desires, so that the right replacement chemicals come to market. Regan said the AF 2023 The proposed budget is a very sincere request for the support and implementation of the TSCA.
Regan outlined the EPA’s ambitious program in addressing PFAS, as outlined in its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, including actions the EPA is taking under CERCLA, TSCA, and Safe Drinking Water Act. As reported in the trade press and acknowledged by the EPA in congressional hearings and webinars, the EPA has struggled to meet statutory deadlines under the Lautenberg Act to complete its risk assessments and its reviews of new chemicals. The Biden administration acknowledges the increased workload imposed on the EPA by the Lautenberg Act, seeking $124 million and 449 FTEs to implement the Lautenberg Act, an increase of more than $60 million.
©2022 Bergeson & Campbell, CPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 122