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August 15, 2017

EPA’s TSCA Framework Rules Challenged in Federal Court

Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 10, 2017, and on August 11, 2017, petitions for review of two of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final “framework rules” issued under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) were filed in federal court.  These six lawsuits seek review of the final rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA and the final rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA.  The petitions were filed by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et al. on August 10, 2017 (Cases 17-72260 and 17-72259); the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. (including the Natural Resources Defense Council) on August 11, 2017 (Cases 17-1926 and 17-1927 (consolidated)); and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on August 11, 2017 (Cases 17-2464 and 17-2403), in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth, Fourth, and Second Circuits, respectively.  In the Ninth Circuit, the Petitioner’s Briefs are due October 30, 2017, and Respondent EPA’s briefs are due November 28, 2017; in the Fourth Circuit, the opening brief, record from agency, and the appendix are due September 20, 2017, and the response brief is due October 20, 2017; in the Second Circuit, a briefing schedule has not been posted yet. 

In its petitions for review, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et al. state that they challenge the rules as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law; in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations; and without observance of procedure required by law.” On the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ website, the organization states that the petitions allege the rules “fail to provide the protections against unsafe chemicals that Congress required in the critical priority-setting and risk evaluation provisions of the new law, which are intended to ensure that unreasonable risks to health and the environment are fully assessed and eliminated.”  In its petitions for review, EDF does not list any details as to why it is seeking review (nor do the rules require petitioners to do so), but on its website it states that “EPA has issued framework rules that violate the letter and intent of the law,” and that EDF has filed lawsuits challenging those rules and “will continue to monitor EPA’s actions to ensure EPA complies with the law and protects public health.”  The petitions for review filed by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. do not list any details as to why they are seeking review.