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January 18, 2018

Lynn L. Bergeson Quoted in Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report Article “Citizens Petitions, Lawsuits on Chemical Rules Likely to Grow”

The ACTA Group

On January 18, 2018, Lynn L. Bergeson, President, The Acta Group (Acta®), was quoted in a Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report article regarding an increase in citizen group petitions as a result of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Reform. 

Chemical manufacturers should expect to see more petitions from citizen groups asking the EPA to regulate substances now that the nation’s primary chemicals law has been amended, attorneys tell Bloomberg Environment.

Environmental, animal welfare, and other organizations will likely use every provision allowed under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act to compel stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulation of chemicals, said Lynn Bergeson, managing partner with Bergeson & Campbell P.C.


Bergeson, Estreicher, and Gotting all cited a lawsuit that attracted attention this year after a federal district court ruled late December that the EPA erred in its interpretation of amended TSCA’s requirements for citizens’ petitions.

The case, Food & Water Watch v. EPA, involves a coalition of health advocates that petitioned the agency soon after TSCA was amended seeking a ban on fluoride in drinking water. The groups argued drinking the chemical does not prevent tooth decay, but can be neurotoxic, especially to children’s developing brains.

The EPA denied the petition saying the agency’s interpretation of the amended TSCA as requiring citizens petitions “to address the full set of conditions of use for a chemical substance.”

Not true, ruled the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. “A citizen petition need not evaluate all conditions of use,” the court said, allowing the case to proceed.


Bergeson added that “even before the dust-up occasioned by Food & Water Watch, stakeholders were widely expected to avail themselves of every tool under TSCA, including Section 21 citizens’ petitions and Section 20 civil actions, to influence the interpretation of new TSCA.”

Section 21 allows citizens to petition the EPA to initiate a rule. Section 21 authorizes citizens to file lawsuits against any person or agency alleged to be violating:

  • the statute,
  • rules promulgated under multiple sections of the law, or
  • orders, for example those the EPA can issue requiring manufacturers of new chemicals to not release the chemical to water.

“Companies and other regulated entities would be well advised to step up their monitoring efforts to ensure Section 21 citizen petitions and other forms of citizen advocacy (Section 20 litigation) are promptly identified, considered, and addressed,” Bergeson said by email.

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