Environmental Group Petitions for Review of EPA’s New Confidential Business Information Rule

Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) has filed a petition in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia requesting a review of EPA’s recently finalized rule Confidential Business Information Claims Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Petitioner’s Statement of Issues was filed in August.  EDF raises the question of whether EPA’s rule was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law because it …


  • Would allow confidential business information (“CBI”) claims for types of information TSCA makes categorically ineligible for CBI protection;
  • Would not require substantiation or EPA review of a CBI claim that was asserted before the chemical’s commercialization, for information that identifies the specific chemical identity. once the chemical is commercialized;
  • Unlawfully adopts a regulatory definition of “health and safety study” that is narrower than the TSCA definition, denying TSCA-mandated public access to important information on chemicals;
  • Give the Agency unlawfully broad discretion through its regulations where TSCA imposes a duty upon the Agency; and
  • Reduces the transparency previously required under EPA’s CBI review procedures without adequate justification.


EDF has not yet filed a memorandum in support of its petition.

EPA Requests Information on Addressing PFAS in the Environment for the Superfund Program

EPA has published a notice of proposed rulemaking, Addressing PFAS in the Environment, asking for public input, which the Agency will use to develop future per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) regulations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The Agency asked for information on the potential future hazardous substance designation of a number of PFAS, categories of PFAS, and several PFAS precursors.

Request for Public Input Regarding Potential Future Hazardous Substance Designation of Seven PFAS

EPA had previously proposed designating PFOA and PFOS and their salts and structural isomers as hazardous substances under CERLA. The present notice requested feedback as to whether the agency should initiate action designating an additional seven PFAS and their salts and structural isomers or a subset thereof as CERCLA hazardous substances as well. The seven PFAS being considered for designation are:

  • Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), CASRN 375–73–5
  • Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), CASRN 355–46–4
  • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), CASRN 375–95–1
  • Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO–DA), CASRN 13252–13–6
  • Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) CASRN 375–22–4
  • Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) CASRN 307–24–4
  • Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) CASRN 335–76–2

EPA asked interested parties to submit information on whether any of these compounds may present substantial danger to public health or welfare or the environment. Such information could include data on mobility, persistence, and prevalence.

Request for Public Input Regarding Potential Future Hazardous Substance Designation of Precursors to PFOA, PFOS, and PFAS

The Agency is also considering initiating action that would designate certain PFAS precursors as hazardous substances under CERCLA. To make this determination, EPA requested information to help the Agency identify compounds that degrade to these PFAS through environmental processes such as biodegradation and hydrolysis.

Request for Public Input Regarding Potential Designation, or Designations, of Categories of PFAS as Hazardous Substances

Additionally, EPA is considering initiating action that would designate groups or categories of PFAS as CERCLA hazardous substances. These groups or categories would be based on characteristics that determine risk to human health and the environment, such as chemical structure, physical and chemical properties, mode of toxicological action, and precursors or degradants. To inform its decision-making, the Agency solicited the following information:

  • Published scientific literature that can inform whether categories of PFAS could or could not be designated as hazardous substances. This could include findings on the similarities or differences of a specific characteristic among PFAS. Also useful would be data on the relationship between different characteristics, such as the relationship between chemical structure and specific chemical, physical, or toxicological properties.
  • Other information that could inform EPA’s determination of whether to designate one or more categories of PFAS as hazardous substances.
  • Information that would contribute to economic analysis of the potential costs and benefits, including impacts on small entities, associated with a potential rulemaking designating categories of PFAS as hazardous substances. (Although CERCLA section 102(a) precludes EPA from taking cost into account in the designation of a hazardous substance, the Agency is requesting this information to help the Agency understand the potential costs and benefits associated with any potential future regulatory action.)

The deadline for submitting comments was extended from June 12 to August 11, 2023, during which period over 600 comments were submitted. The comments can be reviewed here.

EPA Releases Draft IRIS Assessment of PFHxS and Related Salts

On July 24, 2023, EPA released a draft IRIS Toxicological Review of Perfluorohexanesulfonic Acid (PFHxS) and Related Salts.  Comments on the draft assessment will be accepted through September 22, 2023.

The IRIS assessment found that, given sufficient exposure conditions, PFHxS is likely to cause thyroid and developmental immune effects in humans.  Other evidence suggests but is insufficient to infer that PFHxS exposure might cause teratological, hepatic, neurodevelopmental, and cardiometabolic effects in humans.  EPA concluded that there is inadequate information to assess whether PFHxS exposure can result in hematopoietic, reproductive, renal, and carcinogenic effects.

PFHxS is one of three PFAS currently undergoing IRIS assessments, along with PFNA and PFDA.  EPA previously published final IRIS assessments for two other PFAS: PFBA in December 2022 and PFHxA in April 2023.

DuPont De Nemours Inc. Sues EPA Regarding GenX Test Order

Earlier this year, the US Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit ordered EPA to provide documentation regarding the Agency’s decision to order DuPont De Nemours Inc. to provide information on GenX chemicals through two section 4 test orders under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). DuPont brought this case to challenge the testing requirements imposed on the company, asserting that EPA had incorrectly identified the company as a manufacturer of the chemicals identified in the test orders:  hexafluoropropylene oxide (also known as trifluoro(trifluoromethyl)oxirane) and 6:2 Fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine, two GenX chemicals. The test orders required testing on the inhalation effects toxicity of the chemicals in order to enable EPA to further understand protentional risks posed to human health and the environment. In addition to the cost of the toxicity studies, the manufacturers subject to the orders were assessed a fee of $11,650 to be split evenly amongst them.

After receiving the order to provide documentation, EPA requested several time extensions, but eventually stipulated to an agreement dismissing the case. The motion filed in May 2023 released DuPont from the test orders on 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine and hexafluoropropylene oxide. The Court then dismissed the case.

Audit Finds EPA’s New Chemicals Program Lacks Sufficient Guidance

On August 2, 2023, EPA’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) released a report on its audit of EPA’s New Chemicals Program. The audit identified recordkeeping and quality assurance issues with the program as administered by EPA’s New Chemicals Division (“NCD”). The audit, which began in October 2021, was conducted in response to several internal complaints submitted to OIG.

The New Chemicals Program reviews whether new chemicals or significant new uses of existing chemicals pose an “unreasonable risk” to human health or the environment under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). According to the report, NCD did not have finalized, up-to-date guidance for recordkeeping or for many of the steps in the new chemicals review process, contrary to EPA protocol.  OIG stated that these issues resulted from insufficient staff resources, which prevented NCD from both conducting the chemical reviews within statutory time frames and finalizing guidance for the activities composing the review process. The report also found frequent technical issues with NCD’s TSCA Confidential Business Information systems.

Some of the complaints to OIG alleged that staff were pressured to focus on deadlines rather than chemicals’ potential risks during the new chemical review process. However, OIG found no evidence of this; for example, the report notes that NCD employees were not evaluated on the speed at which they reviewed chemicals.

OIG made the following four recommendations to EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (“OCSPP”) based on its findings:

  1. Develop a plan to regularly review NCD’s guidance documents,
  2. Develop a plan to periodically assess the effectiveness of NCD’s recordkeeping system,
  3. Develop a plan to identify the root causes of the technical issues, and
  4. Conduct periodic reviews of NCD’s workload.

OCSPP’s response, which was included in the report, agreed with each of OIG’s recommendations and proposed corrective actions in line with the recommendations.

This audit was not the first to find issues with EPA’s implementation of TSCA provisions. A 2019 GAO report identified similar issues, such as insufficient guidance and resources, with the new chemicals review process. In 2020, OIG found that EPA had missed deadlines on existing chemical risk evaluations and that EPA’s ability to meet future deadlines was at risk. EPA has since proposed a fee adjustment designed to increase TSCA fee collections. Most recently, in February 2023, GAO determined that EPA had missed most TSCA deadlines for reviewing new and existing chemicals.  In general, EPA agreed in part or in full when recommendations were made in these reports and corrective actions have been completed or are pending.

EPA Seeks Input on Expansion of the Safer Choice and Design for the Environment Programs

EPA recently solicited public comment on its proposed expansion of the Agency’s Safer Choice and Design for the Environment programs. The expansion would include certification of additional product categories; the programs are currently limited to cleaners and disinfectants. Participation in the programs by manufacturers is voluntary. The programs help consumers and businesses acquire products that meet strict criteria for effects on human health and the environment; products certified by the programs do not present a risk of harm to human health or the environment.

The proposed expansion comes as a result of increasing consumer interest in the chemicals used in products and consumers’ desire to make informed purchasing decisions. During the comment period, the Agency seeks input on which new product categories it should add to these programs and how adding these products will benefit the health of humans and the environment. All products in any category that is added will be subject to the human health and environmental toxicology criteria detailed in the Safer Choice Standard. No product containing intentionally added PFAS can be approved for either program.

EPA Releases Framework for Addressing New PFAS and New Uses Under TSCA

EPA has released the Framework for Addressing New PFAS and New Uses of PFAS. This document details the Agency’s planned strategy for evaluating Premanufacture Notices  (“PMNs”) for new PFAS compounds and Significant New Use Notices (“SNUNs”) for “new uses” of existing PFAS to ensure they do not pose harm to human health and the environment.

The Agency states that new PFAS substances present challenges for regulators, as there is frequently limited information available to assess their potential risks accurately. Many PFAS compounds are known to persist in the environment, bioaccumulate, and be toxic (known as “PBT”); the framework aims to qualitatively evaluate PFAS based on how likely they truly are to become PBTs in the body and environment.

The framework distinguishes between PFAS uses that may result in environmental releases and potential exposures and those that don’t. For example, PFAS applications that are deemed to have negligible exposure and minimal environmental release, such as in the closed systems used in the manufacture of electronics. EPA generally anticipates allowing the compounds to enter commerce after exposure data is provided.

The framework calls for more comprehensive testing, including toxicokinetic data, for PBT PFAS compounds that are expected to have a low but greater than negligible potential for environmental release and exposure. If initial testing raises concerns about exposure levels and risks, EPA will mandate further testing and risk mitigation before permitting manufacturing. This comprehensive testing would encompass physical-chemical properties, toxicity, and fate analysis. For example, uses of PFAS in spray-applied stain guards inherently involve releases into the environment. If required testing finds potential hazards, EPA has the authority under TSCA section 5 to demand additional testing and risk mitigation strategies or prohibit manufacturing entirely.

If EPA determines a new chemical substance poses an unreasonable risk, lacks sufficient risk information, or involves substantial production with potential exposure, it must issue a section 5(e) order for human health and environmental protection, which may include testing requirements. If PFAS data suggests it’s a PBT chemical and EPA anticipates exposures, the substance or significant new use could be deemed to present an unreasonable risk, therefore requiring either a section 5(f) order or an immediately effective proposed rule under TSCA section 6(a). The section 5(f) order applies to the submitter, while the 6(a) rule covers all users. For a SNUN, the 6(a) rule typically targets the specified new use. The chart below further details the possible EPA determinations and related actions following their review.

Determination Related Action
In the absence of sufficient information to permit a reasoned evaluation of risk from the substance or significant new use, the substance or significant new use may present an unreasonable risk. EPA must issue an order under TSCA section 5(e).
There is insufficient information to permit a reasoned evaluation of risk from the substance or new use. EPA must issue an order under TSCA section 5(e).
The substance or significant new use presents an unreasonable risk. EPA must take action under TSCA section 5(f).
The substance is or will be produced in substantial quantities, and there may be significant or substantial human and/or environmental exposure (exposure-based). EPA must issue an order under TSCA section 5(e).
The substance or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk. EPA notifies the submitter of its decision and publishes its findings in the Federal Register.


EPA Sued Over Herbicide Registration Renewal

On June 6, 2023, the Center for Food Safety and two other environmental groups sued EPA over the Agency’s decision to renew registrations for Enlist One and Enlist Duo, two herbicides manufactured by Corteva Agrisciences, LLC.  The case is currently pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as Center for Food Safety v. EPA.

The lawsuit alleges that EPA failed to properly evaluate the Enlist products’ risks as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) when the Agency renewed the herbicides’ registrations until 2027.  According to the plaintiffs, the herbicides cause numerous adverse environmental effects, including harm to crops growing on neighboring properties and drinking water contamination.  The plaintiffs allege that EPA understated these risks in making its decision, while overstating the herbicides’ effectiveness.  In addition, the plaintiffs argue that EPA’s decision harms the survival, growth, and reproduction of exposed plants and animals, including endangered and threatened species.  The plaintiffs ask the court to vacate EPA’s decision and to stop the sale and use of the Enlist products.

In an EPA memorandum supporting the Agency’s decision, EPA stated that it had “evaluated the benefits and risks to human health and the environment from these products’ uses, including potential risk to non-target organisms, and conducted effects determinations for federally listed endangered and threatened species.”  According to EPA, the results of its evaluations and assessments were sufficient for the Agency to conclude that granting the registration renewal met the requirements of FIFRA and ESA.  These requirements include FIFRA section 3(c)(5), which directs EPA to register a pesticide when the Agency finds that the pesticide will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment, among other criteria; ESA section 7(a)(2), which requires EPA to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that actions taken by EPA do not jeopardize endangered and threatened species; and ESA section 7(d), which prevents EPA from taking irreversible action during 7(a)(2) consultation that eliminates the implementation of reasonable alternatives.

Enlist Duo has previously been the subject of litigation.  In National Family Farm Coalition, et al., v. U.S. EPA, et al., 966 F.3d 893 (9th Cir., 2020), petitioners challenged EPA’s decisions to register the herbicide in 2014, 2015, and 2017 on FIFRA and ESA grounds.  The panel rejected the petitioners’ ESA claims and the majority of the petitioners’ FIFRA claims, allowing Enlist Duo registration, but agreed with the petitioners that EPA did not properly assess harm to monarch butterflies due to the herbicide’s effects on milkweed.  The panel remanded the registration decision to EPA so the Agency could assess this concern and determine whether it presented an unreasonable adverse effect under FIFRA.

According to EPA, Enlist One and Enlist Duo are registered for use in 34 states for a variety of uses on corn, cotton, and soybeans.  Both herbicides contain the active ingredient 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid choline salt.  Enlist Duo also contains the active ingredient glyphosate.

EPA Finds TCE as a Whole Chemical Substance an Unreasonable Risk to Human Health

Earlier this year, EPA announced the final revision to the risk determination for trichloroethylene (TCE) risk evaluation issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). EPA found that TCE presents unreasonable risks to the health of workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders. The risks identified include adverse human health effects unrelated to cancer, such as neurotoxicity and liver effects, from acute and chronic inhalation and dermal exposures to TCE and risks for cancer from chronic inhalation and dermal exposures to TCE. The revised risk determination supersedes the conditions of use (“COU”) specific “no unreasonable risk” determinations that the EPA previously issued in its 2020 TCE risk evaluation.

TCE is a volatile organic compound (“VOC”) used mostly in industrial and commercial processes. Consumer uses include cleaning and furniture care products, arts and crafts, spray coatings, and automotive care products like brake cleaners. EPA determined that 52 of the 54 COUs evaluated drive the unreasonable risk determination.

EPA states that it used the whole chemical risk determination approach for TCE because there are benchmark exceedances for multiple COUs spanning across most aspects of TCE’s life cycle, from manufacturing (including import), processing, commercial use, consumer use, and disposal for health of workers occupational non-users (workers nearby but not in direct contact with this chemical), consumers, and bystanders. EPA holds that this approach is appropriate because the health effects associated with TCE exposures are “severe and potentially irreversible,” including developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer. EPA notes that the revised risk determination for TCE does not reflect an assumption that workers always and appropriately wear personal protective equipment (PPE). EPA states that as it moves forward with a risk management rulemaking for TCE, it will “strive for consistency with existing OSHA requirements or best industry practices when those measures would address the identified unreasonable risk.

Additionally, EPA stated it is conducting a screening-level approach to assess potential risks from the air and water pathways for several of the first 10 risk evaluation chemicals, including TCE. The goal of the screening approach is to evaluate the surface water, drinking water, and ambient air pathways for TCE that were excluded from the 2020 risk evaluation and to determine if there are risks that were unaccounted for in that risk evaluation. EPA expects to describe its findings regarding the chemical-specific application of this screening-level approach in its proposed risk management rule for TCE.

Hearing Announced on EPA’s Intent to Cancel Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Registrations

On June 21, 2023, EPA announced that a public hearing will be held in response to objections and hearing requests following EPA’s issuance of a Notice of Intent to Cancel (“NOIC”) pesticide registrations for three products containing chlorpyrifos. The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. on January 8, 2024, and will continue as necessary through January 11, 2024.

The objections and hearing requests following the NOIC came from a collection of grower groups and a producer of chlorpyrifos products. The petitioners are currently challenging EPA’s 2021 final rule, which revoked all tolerances for chlorpyrifos, in the Eighth Circuit case Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association et al. v. Regan. The petitioners argue that EPA should stay or withdraw the NOIC until the pending case is decided.

EPA’s NOIC was the result of over a decade of efforts to ban chlorpyrifos use. In 2007, two non-profit organizations filed a petition requesting that EPA revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for chlorpyrifos, pointing to studies showing neurotoxic, developmental, endocrinal, and carcinogenic effects in humans and animals as a result of exposure. EPA did not take final action on the petition until it denied the petition in 2017, concluding that the science behind the effects of exposure remained unresolved.  In 2021, the Ninth Circuit vacated EPA’s decision in League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Regan. The court held that EPA had abdicated its statutory duty under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by failing to update the tolerances for chlorpyrifos despite its inability to conclude, to the statutory standard of reasonable certainty, that present tolerances caused no harm. The court ordered EPA to grant the 2007 petition and modify or revoke the tolerances accordingly. EPA opted to revoke all tolerances in the final rule.

In the ongoing case, Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association et al. v. Regan, the grower groups and the chlorpyrifos producer argue that the final rule was arbitrary and capricious due to EPA’s disregard for safe chlorpyrifos uses. The petitioners observe that shortly before the final rule was published, EPA completed a human health assessment that found that chlorpyrifos use on eleven crops in select regions was safe. By refusing to act on its own evidence, the petitioners assert that EPA disregarded its statutory mandate to review the safety of tolerances using current science.

According to EPA, chlorpyrifos was registered for use in the U.S. beginning in 1965. At the time of the final rule, chlorpyrifos was registered for use on fruit and nut trees, many types of fruits and vegetables, and grain crops.