The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn a pair of draft chemical regulations that were awaiting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval. This included a measure that would have placed the synthetic compound bisphenol A on a “chemicals of concern” list. Proponents of the changes had called for adding nine chemicals to a list of dangerous substances and preventing health and safety study data for new chemicals from being classified as confidential. In a move that is difficult to comprehend or defend, the EPA has killed the needed safety rules.
The EPA pulled the rules proposed without any formal announcement after they had been sitting at OMB for more than two years. Obviously, industry groups were very happy. They claimed the rules weren’t needed. Environmental groups accused the EPA of bowing to industry demands and endangering the public.
Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, has been the subject of heated debate recently. Researchers have linked BPA to a host of health problems, including cancer, reproductive dysfunction and heart disease, but federal regulators have for some reason ignored the health safety issues. The FDA, in July, vouched for the chemical to be used in food packaging.
One of the EPA’s draft rules would have listed BPA and eight flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as posing an “unreasonable risk to human health and/or the environment.” The other would have forced companies to release the names of chemicals used in health and safety studies rather than keep them hidden as confidential business information. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) strongly supports the EPA’s decision. It claims the withdrawal will ultimately strengthen the federal Toxic Substances Control Act that the proposals would have amended. The industry group also noted that the EPA already has a process in place to assess the risk of dangerous chemicals. In that regard, the ACC said that the “Work Plan Chemicals initiative has made the proposal unnecessary.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) believes that huge corporations are exerting too much influence over the Obama Administration and the EPA. The Council said the recent move shows that the Obama administration is catering to the interests of companies such as Dow Chemical Co., BASF Corp., ExxonMobil Corp. and other chemical manufacturers, rather than protecting the health of children. Daniel Rosenberg, who is senior attorney with NRDC, said in a statement:
They are keeping information secret and stifling public debate on toxic chemicals the American people are widely exposed to now, and may endanger children’s health and the environment.
Earthjustice, a public interest law firm, was very upset with EPA’s decision. Marianne Engelman Lado, Managing Attorney with the group, described the agency’s move as a disturbing about-face. She had this to say:
Withdrawing these rules only adds more secrecy and maintains what amounts to a black hole of information around toxics. This latest action leaves the American public more vulnerable to chemical exposure.
Even though the EPA has backed off new regulations, the BPA problem is still receiving attention on Capitol Hill. Senate Democrats introduced legislation in June that would force manufacturers to include a warning label on any packaging that contains the chemical. They have been pushing the FDA to ban the chemical in products made for children. The FDA announced in July that it would no longer allow BPA to be used in infant formula packaging, but said it was basing the decision on the industry’s abandonment of the chemical rather than safety concerns and added that its current review supports the chemical’s safety.
The FDA rejected a bid in March of last year by the NRDC to ban BPA from food packaging. The agency claimed that the group hadn’t presented enough scientific data that the chemical was harmful to justify a change in regulations. But the FDA did prohibit the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. Legislation targeting BPA at the state level has had mixed results. For example, Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill in July that would have required additional labeling on food packaging containing BPA. Hopefully, the Obama Administration will wake up, realize that the federal government has a duty to protect the public from unsafe products of any kind, and then get actively involved in this battle.
Sources: Sean McLernon and Law360.com
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.