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March 30, 2015

BNA Daily Environment Report Special Report Quotes James V. Aidala

The ACTA Group

In the March 30, 2015 BNA Daily Environment Report Special Report “Questions About Fees, Hiring Staff Among Issues Raised by TSCA Reform Bills,” a reporter spoke with James V. Aidala , Senior Government Consultant with B&C and former Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) (now the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention).

To secure money from the fees, the EPA’s chemicals office will have to figure out the costs of the services it would provide to comply with requirements in TSCA reform bills [Udall-Vitter, and Boxer-Markey] that have been introduced. It also will have to figure out which companies manufacture chemicals that would be subject to service fees and how to define small businesses that would qualify for reduced fees, Jim Aidala told Bloomberg BNA. Aidala is a senior government consultant with Bergeson & Campbell P.C. who oversaw both chemical and pesticide policies while working at the EPA during the 1980s through 2001. […]

Aidala told Bloomberg BNA March 24 that he agrees with [EPA Assistant Administrator Jim] Jones that the agency can implement the new requirements of either TSCA reform bill provided it has additional resources. “It’s doable, very doable,” Aidala said. But no one should underestimate how hard it will be for the OPPT to figure out critical fee-related questions, Aidala said. These questions, he said, include:

  • What are the appropriate fees for services?
  • To which company or companies should fee “bills” be sent?
  • What companies will be excluded due to small business or other reasons?
  • How long will it take to ramp up hiring and get contracts in place—will it affect any deadlines? […]

Carrying out the increased responsibilities of either bill would be made more challenging by a recent trend in which the number of employees leaving OPPT exceeds the number of staff being hired, said Charles Auer, a consultant with Charles Auer & Associates LLC [an affiliate of B&C] who directed OPPT for much of his 32-year career at the agency. As of the end of calendar year 2014, OPPT’s workforce was 279; by Jan. 25 it had dropped to 265. […]  Auer said OPPT’s recent retirements and staff who have left the agency for other reasons has eliminated many experienced risk assessors and other scientists in recent years. “It seems that OPPT would need additional staff— particularly technical experts—and these can be slow to identify and hire,” Auer said.[…] Aidala said the EPA’s administrator would likely make implementation of a new TSCA a priority and find staff and resources to supplement the chemical office’s budget for the short term. OPPT would essentially “beg, borrow and steal resources” from any part of the agency where such was possible, he said. The additional staff and funding the administrator likely would help OPPT find would help the agency until Congress authorized funds and additional full-time employees through an appropriations bill, Aidala said. Depending on when a bill would be signed—if any legislation gets that far—it could be almost a year before new appropriations and increased staff levels would be approved, Aidala said. Income from fees will also take time to arrive, he and other former officials said. […]

OPP’s implementation of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act will provide information that the agency’s chemicals office could use to help it prepare to implement a new law, [the former officials] said. […]

But a key difference, according to Aidala, is that the smaller universe of products—pesticides—over which OPP has jurisdiction and the decades that it has had divergent types of fees means it has good information about which companies would be subject to different fees. EPA’s chemicals office does not have comparable lists of the manufacturers of each chemical it may evaluate, Aidala said. “Who do you send the bill to?” he asked. The number of big companies that will argue the particular division that makes a chemical should qualify for a “small business” fee and the number that will argue they should be exempted from a fee altogether should not be underestimated, Aidala added.