Regulatory Developments

EPA Announces Earlier Compliance Date for Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

April 4, 2018

On April 4, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the compliance date for emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling (the manufactured-by date or import-by date) under the Formaldehyde Standards in Composite Wood Products Act (Formaldehyde Act) codified as Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been set for June 1, 2018, instead of December 12, 2018, per order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Sierra Club and A Cmty. Voice-Louisiana v. Pruitt, No. 4:17-cv-06293, filed Oct. 31, 2017).   83 Fed. Reg. 14375.  The court’s March 13, 2018, order issued pursuant to the stipulation and good cause shown after the February 16, 2018, order that granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment set the new compliance date of June 1, 2018, by lifting the stay of the February 16, 2018, order.
 
The February 16, 2018, order determined that EPA’s final rule delaying the compliance date for the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products issued September 25, 2017 ((82 Fed. Reg. 44533) (Delay Rule)) exceeded EPA’s authority under the Formaldehyde Act, vacated the Delay Rule, and set aside the year-long extension to December 12, 2018, of the compliance deadlines set out by EPA in the Delay Rule.  The Formaldehyde Act set out emission standards for domestically manufactured and imported composite wood products and directed EPA to promulgate implementing regulations that would ensure compliance with the new emission standards.  More information on the February 16, 2018, court order is available in our blog item “California District Court Vacates EPA Final Rule to Delay Compliance with Formaldehyde Emission Standards.”
 
EPA’s notice states the following regarding the new compliance dates:

  • By June 1, 2018 (instead of December 12, 2018), and until March 22, 2019, regulated composite wood panels and finished products containing such composite wood panels that are manufactured (in the United States) or imported (into the United States) must be certified as compliant with either TSCA Title VI or the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) Phase II emission standards that are set at identical levels by a third-party certifier (TPC) approved by CARB and recognized by EPA;
  • Until March 22, 2019, regulated products certified as compliant with the CARB ATCM Phase II emission standards must be labeled as compliant with either TSCA Title VI or the CARB ATCM Phase II emission standards; 
  • After March 22, 2019, CARB-approved TPCs must comply with additional accreditation requirements to remain recognized as an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC and to continue certifying products as TSCA Title VI compliant; and
  • Regulated products manufactured in or imported into the United States after March 22, 2019, may not rely on the CARB reciprocity of 40 C.F.R. § 770.15(e) and must be certified and labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant by an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC with all of the required accreditations. 

The notice states this new compliance date may have applicability/interest to/for entities that manufacture (including import), sell, supply, offer for sale, test, or work with the certification of hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and/or products containing these composite wood materials. 
 
More information on the Formaldehyde Act under TSCA is available on our blog.


 
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