James V. Aidala Quoted By Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report Regarding EPA’s New Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals
On March 19, 2018, James V. Aidala, Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs with The Acta Group (Acta®), was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report article “New Science Panel May Bolster EPA’s Chemical Policy Defense.”
If the decision based on [the advisory committee’s] advice is challenged in court, the imprimatur of the outside advisers can offer evidence that the agency used a scientifically credible approach, Jim Aidala, senior government affairs consultant with Bergeson and Campbell P.C. said.
Getting and following a science advisory committee’s recommendations, however, doesn’t guarantee all parties will agree with the EPA’s final decision nor that EPA will make the right decision, Aidala added.
Amended TSCA requires the agency to conduct more risk-based analyses than the original law required, and it strictly limits the agency’s time to do these more complex chemical evaluations.
These include decisions such as whether: new chemicals pose or may pose an unreasonable risk that should prevent them from being manufactured or require some controls; existing chemicals raise sufficient health or environmental concerns to warrant closer scrutiny; and an existing chemical should be labeled, restricted, banned, or otherwise controlled to prevent potential harm.
The amended law requires the EPA to make such decisions while considering criteria the statute doesn’t clearly define, said Aidala, who helped implement the original chemicals law during the Clinton administration.
Ambiguous statutory language is typical, because clearly defining decision criteria could prevent legislators from reaching the consensus needed to pass laws, he said. Allowing agencies to interpret the law also allows policies to evolve as new science emerges, Aidala said.
The undefined criteria include evaluating risk under a chemical’s “conditions of use,” said Aidala, and Paul DeLeo, a principal with Integral Consulting Inc.
Evaluating a chemical’s risks integrates science and policy, Aidala said.
If the advisory committee has occupational experts they could, for example, help the agency identify workplace uses of a chemical that could result in workers being exposed to it, he said. The committee could identify workplace uses that would constitute 90 percent or more of workers’ exposures, Aidala said.
EPA’s policy decision would be whether it’s sufficient to include 90 percent, 95 percent, or some other percent of exposures stemming from its conditions of use, he said.
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