Charles Auer Quoted in “Rate of EPA Chemical Regulation Ramps Up Since Toxics Law Update”
On March 18, 2017, Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report quoted Charles M. Auer, Senior Regulatory and Policy Advisor with The Acta Group (Acta®), explaining how updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are impacting new chemical regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been regulating more new chemicals since the Toxic Substances Control Act was overhauled than it did before, according to a snapshot of its work over the past 11 months.
“It’s definitely harder to get a new chemical to market,” Charles Auer, a former senior EPA chemicals official told Bloomberg BNA. Auer now is a senior regulatory and policy adviser for the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. law firm.
Auer, who spent 32 years working on chemicals at EPA, said he had expected the new law to double or triple the number of regulations the agency would impose on new chemicals, Instead the agency’s regulation rate is vastly exceeding his expectations.
Prior to the law’s update, about 10 percent of new chemicals were regulated in some way, Auer said. A snapshot of information the EPA released May 17 suggests about 50 percent of new chemicals are being regulated since TSCA was amended, he said.
Historically, companies withdrew about 5 percent of the new chemical requests they submitted to the agency, Auer said. The agency’s latest information suggests companies are withdrawing about 25 percent of their requests to make new chemicals, called premanufacture notices or PMNs, he said.
The increased rate of regulations combined with more manufacturers withdrawing their applications to make new chemicals may keep older chemicals, which traditionally raise more health and environmental concerns, on the market.
Auer said his experience at the EPA, which included directing the agency’s chemicals office, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, taught him that chemistry is improved slowly over time.
“Most chemical developments occur through relatively small tweaks,” he said. Companies adjust some portion of a molecule, he said. That adjustment produces significant improvements in performance while reducing toxicity and saving money through means such as reduced energy use, waste generated or other environmental benefits, Auer said.
Hence, Auer and Newton said they were concerned by the agency’s increased regulation of new chemicals.
“It’s ironic there’s so much focus on restricting new chemicals,” because the problems, Newton said.
A consequence of increased regulation of new chemicals, Auer said, is that the companies that purchase chemicals to make products continue to use existing chemicals. […]