Erik Baptist Discusses EPA’s Plan to Reopen TSCA Risk Evaluation of Methylene Chloride
Erik C. Baptist, partner in Wiley’s Environment & Product Regulation Practice, was quoted by Inside EPA’s Inside TSCA in a May 18 article about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to reopen risk evaluations, for methylene chloride and possibly other chemicals, that were completed by the previous Administration under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Mr. Baptist, who previously served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Law and Policy at the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, recalled the challenges of hiring enough scientists and technical experts to meet the increased workload mandated by the 2016 TSCA amendments.
“When I was at the Agency, we were looking to bring on more staff. We were looking at ways to pay scientists more money,” Mr. Baptist said. “Even if they were to hire 100 new scientists, it’s hard to get up to speed. It does put a strain on the Agency.”
The EPA also plans to make a single “binary” risk finding for each chemical it evaluates, moving away from the previous Administration’s policy of making separate determinations for each of a chemical’s conditions of use, according to the article. But Mr. Baptist said the Agency will still have to craft TSCA evaluations and regulations on a use-by-use basis.
“EPA will still have to make risk management decisions for each condition of use,” he said. “It can’t regulate uses that don’t present unreasonable risk.”
Mr. Baptist predicted that the policy change will delay litigation over evaluations whenever the EPA determines that a chemical does not pose an unreasonable risk.
“You have to wait to litigate to the end no matter what. As long as one condition of use presents unreasonable risk, you have to wait,” he said. “That will be interesting because I think stakeholders of all interests are wanting to see resolution of those uses that do not present unreasonable risk. … If you think EPA got it wrong, you’ve lost that battle and you can’t challenge that determination right away … you have to wait upwards of two to four years.”
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