News | February 8, 2024

EPA Finalizes Changes To Strengthen Implementation Of Toxic Substances Control Act, Improve Chemical Reviews

Rule will ensure EPA recovers 25% of authorized costs of chemical safety reviews, as Congress intended to fund its work to protect public health

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized amendments to the 2018 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Fees Rule that will strengthen the agency’s ability to successfully implement the law in a sustainable way, will improve the efficiency of EPA’s chemical reviews, and ensure these reviews result in necessary health and safety protections. The amendments update how EPA will recover authorized costs of the law’s implementation and ensure that collected fees provide the Agency with 25% of authorized costs consistent with direction from Congress.

The 2016 amendments to TSCA greatly increased EPA’s authority and responsibility to protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals. While Congress provided EPA with new authority to collect fees to offset up to 25% of authorized TSCA implementation costs, the 2018 TSCA Fees Rule resulted in collection of less than half of the costs EPA had the authority to collect, adding to implementation challenges caused by insufficient resources.

“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, we’ve made incredible progress implementing our nation’s chemical safety law, and today is another major step forward as we work to build a more sustainable, efficient program that protects public health,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “This final rule will provide more resources, allowing EPA to review more chemicals more efficiently which means better and faster protections for communities from dangerous chemicals and robust support for American innovation of new chemistries.”

Reports from EPA’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Government Accountability Office note EPA’s lack of resources for the TSCA program and the impact it has had on implementing the 2016 law, as well as the need for better cost estimates. Additionally, EPA’s October 2022 report to Congress on the agency’s capacity to implement the 2016 law acknowledges compounding failures on the EPA’s part in the first few years following enactment to adequately assess its resource needs early and to establish fees that capture the updated cost of EPA’s TSCA work.

EPA based its November 2022 proposed rule on its comprehensive 2021 analysis that more adequately accounted for the anticipated costs of implementing the amended law based on data from the first several years of implementation.

In today’s final rule, EPA has reduced the total program cost estimate by over 19% to approximately $146.8M (compared to approximately $181.9M in the 2022 proposed rule) as a result of its comprehensive budget analysis. EPA has identified numerous efficiencies through its experience implementing TSCA that have brought down the estimated costs. Some of these efficiencies include more targeted data reviews and analyses refinement. In addition, EPA will likely need to spend less money gathering data on the next set of chemicals being prioritized for risk evaluation.

Specifically, the fees associated with EPA-initiated risk evaluations have been reduced from $5.1M to $4.3M, and the fees for review of a new chemical submissions have been reduced from $45,000 to $37,000.

The final rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Read the final rule.

Learn more about TSCA fees.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)