Due to the partial government shutdown, widespread impacts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have compounded their resource constraints. Generally, all activity at the EPA ceased for the duration of the shutdown and actions required for the EPA will now be delayed upwards of 45 days. For a recent comparison, after the 2013 government shutdown, the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs had approximately 100 additional staff to eliminate the backlog which ultimately took over six months to complete. HCPA has compiled a short summary of the impacts for various EPA programs, seen below.
In chemical news, the EPA has publicly announced a 33-day extension of review periods for all TSCA section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMNs), Significant New Use Notices (SNUNs), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCANs), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA section 5 before December 29, 2018. These exemptions impact a total of 581 new chemical notifications. Additionally, any new notifications submitted on or after December 29, 2018 through E-PMN/CDX or other methods were not processed. Consequently, the review period for any TSCA section 5 notice submitted during the shutdown did not begin until normal operations resumed on January 31, which impacts a total of 24 new chemical notifications. Full details can be viewed in the Federal Register notice attached here.
For existing chemicals, risk evaluations that were underway prior to the partial shutdown on the first 10 chemicals stopped, thus making the statutory deadlines required by the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act difficult to meet. The most obvious impact under existing chemicals was the postponement of the initial Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) meeting involving Pigment Violet 29 until later this spring. The SACC committee will have a busy year with risk evaluations and review of the TSCA use of best available science requested by acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
HCPA proactively communicated with EPA staff regarding the Pesticide Programs, and the EPA will prioritize actions that are essential to registrants and renegotiate PRIA deadlines that were due during or after the partial shutdown. This includes the pet spot-on products that HCPA was in contact with the EPA about during the partial shutdown. The EPA should be contacting members about priorities or renegotiations. Additionally, the short-term funding measure that runs through February 15 was retroactive to December 21 and submissions during the shutdown are now subject to the full PRIA fees and deadlines. There were several items submitted during the shutdown and a significant uptick in submissions post-shutdown in reaction to the possibility of another partial government shutdown.
Finally, the Safer Choice program was completely closed during the partial shutdown and is now up and running at full capacity. There were several activities put on hold that are recommencing, including a webinar on the fragrance criteria, and training on how to obtain a Safer Choice labeled product. Details will be coming out soon. Work by the third-party profilers was able to continue during the shutdown but could not be completed before the EPA reopened.
Please contact Dr. Steve Bennett, Senior Vice President, Scientific Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org for any additional comments or questions.