EPA announced Wednesday that it is delaying the reporting period for its Inventory Update Reporting requirement. It's not good news.
EPA had announced its intention to revise (pdf) the TSCA Inventory Update Rule (IUR) back in August of last year. The TSCA Inventory is the official list of chemicals in commerce, and the IUR is the regulation that requires companies to submit production and use data to EPA to ensure the Inventory accurately represents all of the chemicals out there. Determining the risks posed by chemicals in the environment is a matter of combining hazard information with exposure data. The TSCA Inventory, along the data in EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, provide answers to the “exposure” half of that equation.
EPA's proposal was a step forward, requiring more information reporting from chemical manufacturers, more frequent updates, less information hidden from the public by confidentiality, and other improvements.
EPA sent the rule to OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs back on January 20th. OIRA then hosted at least six meetings on the issue -- five with industry representatives and just one with environmental and public health groups. The chemical industry has been bombarding the administration and congress with fallacious arguments against the updated IUR (see this useful post by Richard Denison and Allison Tracy for a rundown and explanation. In one example, industry claims small businesses will be unduly burdened, when they are in fact largely exempted).
Under Executive Order 12866, OIRA is supposed to finish review of significant rules in 90 days (with one optional 30-day extension). By my count, OIRA’s had the rule under review for 113 days. EPA was supposed to begin a new reporting period under the new rule next month. That's now been postponed indefinitely.
OMB continues to be a sluice gate to health and safety regulation, and it seems like industry’s holding the controls. The public's health -- in the form of protection from toxic chemicals -- pays the price.