SOCMA today issued the following statement, as well as extensive public comments
, in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed rule for User Fees for the administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):
SOCMA supports EPA’s efforts to establish a program to assess user fees for the administration of TSCA, so long as the program implemented is fair, efficient to administer, and effective in maintaining the competitive standing of the specialty chemical industry and strength of the U.S. chemicals market.
There are numerous critical areas in EPA’s proposed rule that require improvement. In setting fees, EPA must ensure it does not create disincentives to bringing new and innovative chemistries to market. SOCMA recommends that EPA only increase fees for Pre-Manufacture Notices (PMNs) by the rate of inflation and that fees for exemption applications be eliminated. These changes will ensure that fees for EPA’s New Chemicals Review Program are fair and manageable to submitters and that they comply with the statutory obligation that the program does not impede unduly or create unnecessary economic barriers to technological innovation. SOCMA commends EPA in not making Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims a fee-able event, since access to trade secrecy is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage.
EPA must also modify its provisions for risk evaluation activities to ensure the very substantial fees can be effectively shouldered by manufacturers. SOCMA proposes several modifications that improve the manageability of EPA-initiated risk evaluation fees, which are directly assessed by the Agency and, therefore, the most burdensome to pay. SOCMA recommends that EPA:
- Assess risk management activities separately;
- Provide greater flexibility for fee remittance;
- Increase the fee for manufacturer-requested risk evaluations of Work Plan chemicals; and
- Lower the fee for EPA-initiated risk evaluations.
To improve the fairness of these fees, SOCMA also believes it necessary for the Agency to institute a notification process for identifying users, with fee applicability subject to new market entrants.
SOCMA supports the Agency’s efforts to update the standard for classifying small business entities and approves of increasing the revenue-based threshold by inflation. To provide more effective relief to specialty chemical manufacturers, SOCMA also recommends that EPA institute a disjunctive employee-based size standard that small businesses can also qualify for.
Finally, SOCMA believes it is critical that EPA offset its increased fee authority by making efficiency improvements within the TSCA program. SOCMA welcomes a commitment in the final rule for EPA to pursue regular reviews of its internal costs to determine what they reasonably should be, versus what they are. Pressure-testing its expected costs through zero-based budgeting will better guarantee the long-term fairness and affordability of the TSCA user fees program.
Read the full transcript of SOCMA’s public comments on the proposed TSCA User Fees Rule.