SOCMA’s 2015 Committee Week Recap

October 5-8, 2015
SOCMA Offices
Washington, DC

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2015 Committee WeekSOCMA members gathered at our offices in Washington, DC, October 5-8 to hear key Obama administration officials and subject-matter experts discuss issues important to the specialty chemical industry.

Committee Week is held each year to give SOCMA members an opportunity to meet face-to-face with Washington decision-makers to ask questions and share their concerns about many laws and regulations that impact their businesses.

Below is a brief recap from each committee meeting.

Safety and Security Committee
Topping our list of speakers was Vanessa Sutherland, the newly appointed chairperson of the Chemical Safety Board. Speaking to SOCMA's Safety and Security Committee, on Wednesday, Sutherland said the CSB is in a rebuilding phase where it is renewing its focus on its primary task of chemical accident investigations. She said the board's role is vital in singularly focusing on accidents and determining the root cause.

Chemical safety is a joint responsibility between industry, companies and government, Sutherland said. "We all have a role to play," she told the committee. She said her agency is working more closely with the Occupational, Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and other agencies, as well as local emergency responders and planners to increase chemical safety.

Sutherland said the CSB will hold a public meeting in November to weigh in on their findings of the West Texas Fertilizer explosion. She stressed that her agency's responsibility was to determine the cause of an explosion or how a chemical is stored, not whether a certain chemical should be banned. "That is not our role, and we will share some of that in the West meeting," she said.

The committee kicked off the morning with Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary and second in command at OSHA, who talked about the President's Executive Order to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security and other OSHA priorities. Barab said the West Fertilizer explosion brought national attention to chemical safety because it wasn't just the facilities that were affected by the incident. Schools and nursing homes were destroyed, and local firefighters killed. As a result, OSHA was asked to look at its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, as well as its Definition of Retail Facility and its National Emphasis Program. Barab said OSHA is working closely and cooperating with the CSB and other agencies to address these issues more efficiently.

The Safety and Security Committee also heard from multiple officials with the Department of Homeland Security, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation throughout the day.

Chemical Risk Management Committee
SOCMA's Chemical Risk Management Committee met Tuesday and heard from a variety of speakers on a wide range of issues.

Jeffrey Morris, Deputy Director for Programs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off the Chemical Risk Management Committee meeting with an update on workplan chemicals and a TSCA section 8 reporting rule on nanomaterials. SOCMA submitted comments on the reporting rule earlier in the year and recommended that EPA re-propose it. Members learned the rule would not be re-proposed, however, the agency is working to refine it and make it clearer. EPA also seemed receptive to SOCMA’s concerns.

Committee members also received an overview of chemical data reporting requirements from Lynn Vendinello, Deputy Director of the Chemical Control Division. An EPA webinar on the requirements is planned for this week. SOCMA members should be wary of the new requirements, including lower volume thresholds and reporting for chemicals that are regulated. The reporting period will occur in 2016.

Greg Sullivan, lead attorney-advisor in EPA’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement, talked about TSCA enforcement activities and priorities. He told the committee EPA is issuing more Significant New Use Rules (SNURs), while also paying more attention to compliance. SNURs can impact a significant portion of the supply chain and be quite difficult to understand.

Jerry Couri, Senior Environmental Policy Advisor for the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, provided some perspective on the House TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576) and expressed gratitude for SOCMA’s help with the bill and the many times we have testified on Capitol Hill over the years. “Without SOCMA, the TSCA Modernization Act would not be possible,” he said. Stay tuned for a Senate floor vote on S. 697 any day now. It is likely just a matter of time before TSCA reform happens.

Additional speakers included Tom Jacob of the Chemical Industry Council of California and Helen Medina with the U.S. Council for International Business.

Environment Committee
The Environment Committee wrapped up SOCMA's successful 2015 Committee Week with speakers from the EPA, SBA and others.

During the meeting, Bruce Lundegren and Tabby Waqar, Assistant Chief Counsels for the Office of Advocacy at the SBA, encouraged SOCMA to submit comments as a “helper” for the RMP Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Actprocess with a short turn-around time - the next day.

Kathy Lett and Jessica Young, chief of the Recycling and Generator Branch, for EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, reviewed and answered questions about the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Proposed Rule.

The committee also discussed concerns about the Generator Improvements proposal, including recordkeeping requirements and the classification of generators with minor compliance lapses as Treatment, Storage, Disposal Facilities with Aaron Goldberg, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond.

Reggie Cheatham, Director of EPA's Office of Emergency Management, also provided anoverview of relevant priorities within his office, including the RMP rulemaking and the President's Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (EO-13650).

Members of the Environment Committee also received an overview and assessment of a petition being considered by EPA to change the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrosivity characteristic from Joseph Green, Special Counsel for Kelley Drye.

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