EDF Asks Federal Court to Require Industry Transparency Under Chemicals Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(WASHINGTON – November 9, 2023) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging federal regulations that will make it more difficult for the public to obtain information about chemicals the EPA reviews under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
EDF is challenging key aspects of the new regulations, including what constitutes confidential business information and thus may be kept secret, and the lengths to which companies are allowed to go to keep the public from knowing what is in the chemicals they produce and how those chemicals may threaten people’s health.
"More transparency around the chemicals we’re exposed to is essential to protect our health,” said Samantha Liskow, lead counsel for Healthy Communities at EDF. “That is why EDF has long advocated to maximize public access to information about chemicals. Congress wanted the public to play an important role in the evaluation and regulation of toxic chemicals. To do so, robust information about chemical risks must be accessible. We encourage EPA to carry out its responsibility under the law to ensure the public's right to know about toxic chemicals is protected."
EDF’s brief asks the court to consider:
- The new regulations’ narrow definitions of key terms in the law, which invites companies to withhold information relevant to evaluating chemicals’ potential risks.
- The fact that the regulations limit public access to a chemical’s identity (which describes the structure and composition of the chemical) whenever a company claims that identity as confidential in the health and safety documents it submits with its application to make or import a new chemical in the United States.
- The fact that TSCA is clear on the agency’s obligations to deny improper confidentiality claims and disclose non-protected information. The new regulations replace mandatory language with discretionary provisions.
The 2016 reform of TSCA was a major step forward in promoting transparency in the process of chemical risk evaluation. EDF argues that changes in the regulation represent a step backward in the promise of that reform to increase our knowledge about chemicals.
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