New Plastics Bill Would Require US EPA Action Under TSCA

Disposable Plastics

As interest in regulating the production and use of plastics continues to grow, users of chemicals related to plastics should take note of the newly proposed “Protecting Communities from Plastics Act,” introduced in Congress on December 1, 2022 (the Act).  The Act is intended to identify potential health effects of certain plastics, limit their production, and set nationwide reduction targets.  It would also require EPA to review and potentially to regulate under TSCA the component chemicals in many plastics. 

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EU Proposal for Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation

The European Commission has tabled a proposal for Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation – a cornerstone initiative aiming to revolutionise the industry by common, EU-wide rules for packaging circularity.

In this article, we look at the new rules in more detail as it introduces an array of new rules with regards to packaging that is placed on the EU market, which addresses:

  • Recyclability
  • Reusability
  • Size
  • Uptake of recycled content

The proposal is open for public feedback until 1 February 2023.

Read the full publication here.

Beware Before You Flare: EPA Revamps Rulemaking to Pave the Way for Methane Emission Reductions

On November 15, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) issued the pre-publication version of supplemental proposed rulemaking for reduction of methane emissions in the oil and natural gas sector. The original proposed rule, published on November 15, 2021, sought to strengthen methane standards for new sources (New Source Performance Standards or NSPS), establish nationwide emission guidelines (EG) for regulation of existing sources, and develop new standards for unregulated sources. US EPA ultimately received more than 470,000 public comments. The rules, once finalized, will be included in 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart OOOOb (NSPS) and Subpart OOOOc (EG).

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The Automotive Recall Landscape in the US

As automotive technologies evolve, particularly in regard to autonomous vehicles (AVs), legislators struggle to keep pace. The lack of a binding legislative framework for AVs leaves regulators on their own in determining if and how to establish new safety standards. Here, we provide a general overview of recent legislative efforts, the National Highway Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) current regulatory approach for AVs and anticipated rulemakings, and strategies to reduce compliance risk while producing innovative automotive technologies.

Read the full publication here.

US EPA Proposed Clean Air Act Endangerment Finding Targets Aviation Fuel

Lead was once a common additive in fuels, paints, glasses, batteries, pipes, ceramics, and more.  As the health effects of lead exposure came to be better known, Congress and EPA began targeting lead pollution under a variety of laws and regulations governing air and water pollution, including the Toxic Substances Control Act, Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Air Act (CAA), among various other non-statutory initiatives such as the 2018 Federal Lead Action Plan.  Lead exposure dropped dramatically as a result of these initiatives, but one industry still makes extensive use of lead-based products: aviation fuels for piston-engine aircraft which generate emissions that make up over half the country’s annual lead inventory.

On October 17, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding that lead air pollution may reasonably be anticipated to endanger the public health and welfare within the meaning of Section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7571, and further that engine emissions of lead from aircraft contribute to such pollution.  This is a two-pronged “endangerment” and “cause or contribution” finding which addresses both elements provided under Section 231 which provides that EPA shall “issue proposed emission standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of aircraft engines which in his judgment causes, or contributes to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”  An endangerment and contribution finding is therefore the first step in the process of regulating lead emissions from aviation fuels.  EPA often, but not always, combines these endangerment findings with the substantive regulations and emissions limitations but has not done so here.    

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UK Government Proposes 1,000 Fold Increase in Fines for Water Companies

Drain

The number of pollution incidents allegedly perpetrated by water companies in the UK has risen sharply in the last few years. On 3 October 2022, the UK Government shared proposals to raise the maximum cap on civil penalties for pollution incidents to unprecedented levels – from £250,000 up to £250 million per violation.

If retained by the Sunak Government, the proposals will be subject to consultation. If implemented, they would represent a 1,000-fold increase on current levels. 

Why the increase?

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China Publishes Draft List of Key New Pollutants under Pollutant Control Action Plan

We have been monitoring the progress China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has been making on the goals set in its New Pollutant Control Action Plan, released in May 2022. One of the goals of the Plan was to release a list of key “new pollutants” for regulation and control, the categories of which would include persistent organic pollutants; endocrine disruptors; antibiotics; and microplastics, in 2022.

Just recently, the MEE released a draft list of key new pollutants and is soliciting public comment on the list by October 28, 2022. Instructions for making a public comment are available in the Notice. The complete list can be found here in Mandarin and here in English.

While the list is not final, it appears to cover several chemicals which are already subject to international conventions (including the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants), phased out, restricted or heavily regulated in the US, UK, Japan, Korea and/or Europe. These include PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, decabromodiphenyl ether, dicofol, and more. The draft list also contemplates the main control measures that may be implemented for each of these chemicals. These control measures range from the complete banning of production and use; to requiring import or export notices; to cessation of import or export; to strict enforcement of discharge limitations; to regular self-monitoring and report to supervising environmental bureaus.

As discussed in our previous article, once the final list is published, following the public comment period, the Plan then directs the MEE to begin gathering information in key industries from companies that produce, process, use, or discharge priority chemicals.

Ultimately, these recent concrete steps indicate that China is indeed more focused on strengthening its pollutant monitoring framework. Other steps referenced in the Plan that MEE has moved forward with include proposals to protect the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, both of which were published in early and late August.

Squire Patton Boggs will continue to monitor China’s finalized new pollutant list and key updates to its pollutant control framework.

2022 Chemicals Workshop Webinar Series: PFAS, REACH and Other Chemical Regulatory Issues

science laboratory glassware

A recording of PFAS, REACH and Other Chemical Regulatory Issues the second webinar in our two-part 2022 Chemicals Workshop webinar series, in partnership with the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council (OCTC), is now available.

In this session, we provided an overview of the rapidly evolving landscape related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including the proposed listing of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the practical strategies, considerations and measures to assess legacy and current risks. We also discussed developments related to Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and other chemical regulatory issues in the UK and the EU.

View additional event information here.

2022 Chemicals Workshop Webinar Series: TSCA Developments and US EPA Updates

Chemical Structure

A recording of TSCA Developments and US EPA Updates, the first webinar in our two-part 2022 Chemicals Workshop webinar series in partnership with the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council (OCTC), is now available.

In this session, we reviewed US EPA’s implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including proposed “whole chemical” determinations and other Biden Administration initiatives. We discussed implications for the chemical industry, possible legal challenges and risk mitigation strategies, and reviewed developments in the Agency’s “new chemicals” program and related TSCA regulatory changes.

View additional event information here.

US EPA Launches Initiative to Streamline the Review Process for Certain Electric Vehicle and Clean Energy Chemicals

On October 5, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to streamline the review process of mixed metal oxides (MMOs).  MMOs are a key component in lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles and other clean energy initiatives, including in semi-conductors, and renewable energy generation and storage, such as in solar cells and wind power turbines.  

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