OMB Approves Chemical Reporting Rule

On July 7, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a final rule modifying the Toxic Substances Control Act's (TSCA) Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) requirement. The rule should now enable the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resume its collection of critical toxics data.

The final rule, which the EPA sent to OMB on Jan. 20 for approval, expands IUR reporting by increasing the information required, the frequency of reporting, and the number of companies that would have to file an IUR report. The approval was deemed "consistent with change," indicating that OMB required some minor changes to the rule.

The IUR is an inventory of chemical substances in commerce in the United States and requires periodic reporting of chemicals subject to TSCA. It is one of the very few means for the government to collect and then make public critical information on the production, processing, importation, and use of certain chemicals.  This information is vital to identify and regulate chemical risks to the public and environmental health.

On May 11, the EPA suspended the next reporting submission period, which was scheduled between June and September, based on concerns received from the chemical industry. The suspension also camea month after House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders urged OMB to withdraw the EPA's proposed changes to the IUR.

The EPA stated that the suspension would be in effect until the IUR rule changes were finalized, without providing a firm date for either the changes to be finalized or the suspension to be lifted. Concerned that the delay limits access to key chemical data, public interest organizations, including OMB Watch, had urged both the EPA and OMB to set a timeline for when they would complete final review of the IUR rule and lift the suspension of collecting chemical information.

In a statement to OMB Watch, EPA is working to finalize the rule and anticipates making an announcement in the next several weeks. We hope the EPA will move quickly to enforce the changes and resume reporting as soon as possible. When reporting resumes, more information will be collected and made available to the public, meaning that public interest organizations, state and local public health and environmental advocates, and citizens will be able to better gauge chemical risks in their communities. Though delaying reporting until the IUR rule was finalized could well have been a good move by the agency, it remains unclear why a timeline could not be provided if the final rule was so close.

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