Changes for TSCA CBI claims on the horizon.

According to the OMB’s regulatory agenda, EPA is planning to issue a proposed rule on confidential business information (CBI) claims under TSCA.  The proposed rule, which is expected to be released in spring 2014, would require companies making CBI claims to reassert and re-substantiate those claims on a periodic basis. EPA’s intent in proposing the new regulation is to increase transparency and the availability of environmental and health effects information for existing chemicals in the marketplace.

Details about the proposed rule are not yet available, but ChemicalWatch identified two critical issues that will need to be addressed: (1) whether CBI claims will be evaluated immediately and (2) whether individual chemicals must be disclosed. According to ChemicalWatch, stakeholders expect that CBI claims would stand for five years before review and renewal is required.

The future of CBI claims may be further complicated by current legislative efforts to reform TSCA. The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), the TSCA modernization bill currently before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, contains complex CBI provisions which have been criticized by NGOs as overly burdensome for EPA’s resources.

It is also unclear how the new CBI rule would affect EPA’s voluntary CBI Declassification Challenge. In December, Bloomberg discussed the state of the CBI Declassification Challenge with Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. Through this initiative, EPA has determined that over half of the 22,000 CBI claims the agency had thought were submitted by chemical companies were in fact never made. The inflated number was due to a newly identified problem in EPA’s tracking system. Of the remaining claims, 909 cases have been declassified, 3,349 claims have been assessed as valid, and EPA is still investigating the last 7,000 claims.