By Susan M. Kirsch and Lisa M. Campbell
On February 21, 2017, the Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) filed a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District that involves a number of pesticide active ingredients in addition to other chemicals. The lawsuit seeks to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) response to NWEA’s 2013 Petition for Rulemaking to Update the Water Quality Criteria for Toxics in the State of the Washington (NWEA v. EPA, No.: 2:17-cv-00263). NWEA asserts that Washington’s aquatic life water quality criteria (ALC) and human health water quality criteria (HHC) for many chemicals that are classified as “toxic pollutants” are outdated and inadequate. The chemicals at issue include the pesticide active ingredients acrolein, carbaryl, copper, diazinon, demeton, malathion, and methoxychlor. NWEA alleges that Washington’s continued use of outdated criteria violates the CWA and poses a risk to species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (Act), specifically Chinook Salmon and Southern Resident orca whales.
Under the CWA, states develop and adopt water quality criteria and are required on a triennial basis to review and revise or develop new criteria if appropriate to protect designated uses (e.g., recreation, wildlife protection). As part of this triennial review process, states are required to consider any recommended new or revised quality criteria published by EPA. States may adopt the criteria that EPA publishes, modify EPA’s criteria to reflect site-specific conditions, or adopt different criteria based on other scientifically-defensible methods. Criteria are a component of water quality standards that inform the development of total maximum daily load (TMDL) calculations, discharge limits in permits, and management of nonpoint sources of pollution, including agricultural run-off. If state criteria are inadequate for the protection of designated uses, EPA may step-in to issue updated criteria, and can be compelled to promulgate criteria by citizen suit action.
NWEA alleges that Washington has failed to adopt HHC or ALC for several toxic pollutants since 1992. In November 2016, EPA published a final rule updating Washington’s HHC for toxics. 81 Fed. Reg. 85417. NWEA asserts that the revised HHC do not address the full spectrum of HHC, as updates for arsenic, dioxin, and thallium were not included. NWEA also argues that updated HHC do not alleviate the ongoing risk to aquatic life from Washington’s inadequate ALC. EPA has not responded to NWEA’s complaint.
It is unclear how EPA will respond to NWEA’s suit. Often a state will work simultaneously to develop its own criteria that will meet EPA approval. Registrants associated with the pesticides at issue should prepare for potentially forthcoming proposals of more stringent criteria. The proposal and promulgation of new criteria is a lengthy process and requires public notice and comment. It may well be at least two years before either EPA or Washington issues proposed updates for ALC. A compilation of the latest EPA recommended ALC is accessible here. The criteria values in the table provide some indication of the direction that may be taken in future updates.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Sheryl Lindros Dolan, and Margaret R. Graham
On February 17, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance revising its recommendation regarding controlling Candida auris (C. auris) infections in U.S. healthcare facilities. The CDC guidance now recommends a “thorough daily and terminal cleaning and disinfection” of patient rooms in which C. auris infection or colonization was present … with the use of an [EPA]-registered hospital-grade disinfectant effective against Clostridium difficile [(C. difficile)] spores.” The new guidance updates the CDC’s clinical alert on C. auris issued in June 2016 after receiving reports from international healthcare facilities that C. auris, “an emerging multidrug-resistant (MDR) yeast, [was] causing invasive healthcare-associated infections with high mortality.” Previously, CDC recommended use of an EPA-registered disinfectant with a fungal efficacy claim.
As EPA is responsible for regulating hospital disinfectants and other antimicrobial pesticides used in healthcare facilities, this updated guidance has particular interest and significance for registrants of hospital disinfectant products. EPA maintains a list of registered antimicrobial products effective against C. difficile (List K) and states that “Guidance to the companies that register antimicrobial products and seek label claims against C. auris is under development.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson, James V. Aidala, and Margaret R. Graham
On February 2, 2017, Dominic J. Mancini, Acting Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issued interim guidance in a questions and answers format (Q&A) to implement President Trumps’s recent Executive Order (EO) regarding the costs of agency rulemaking, Memorandum: Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order of January 30, 2017, Titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” More information on the EO is available in our blog item EPA Issues Report to Congress on Implementing Amended TSCA Provisions, President Trump Issues Memo and Order on Reducing Federal Regulations.
The OMB memorandum, issued for regulatory policy officers and executive departments and agencies and managing and executive directors of certain agencies and commissions, states that it explains three requirements specified in the EO:
- That every agency must identify two existing regulations to be repealed when they promulgate a new rulemaking;
- That there can be no incremental costs (no greater than zero) for any new regulations or for the repeal of any regulations for fiscal year (FY) 2017, unless otherwise required by law or consistent with advice provided in writing by the OMB Director; and
- In furtherance and in relation to # 1, if there are any new incremental costs, they will be offset by the elimination of the existing costs of at least two prior regulations.
Agencies planning to issue one or more significant regulatory action on or before September 30, 2017 (the end of FY 2017), are directed to provide: (1) “[a] reasonable period of time before the agency issues that action, identify two existing regulatory actions the agency plans to eliminate or propose for elimination on or before September 30, 2017”; and (2) “[f]ully offset the total incremental cost of such new significant regulatory action as of September 30, 2017.”
The memorandum’s Q&As cover 23 questions under three categories: Coverage; Accounting Questions; and Process and Waiver Questions. A few of the stated answers include:
- The requirements only apply to significant regulatory actions issued between noon on January 20, 2017, and September 30, 2017;
- New significant guidance or interpretive documents will be addressed on a case-by-case basis;
- Regulatory actions issued before January 20 that are vacated or remanded by a court after that date will not qualify for savings, but regulatory actions overturned by subsequently enacted laws will qualify, on a general basis;
- Costs should be measured as the opportunity cost to society, and be annualized as defined in and in accordance with OMB Circular A-4, a Memorandum on Regulatory Analysis issued in 2003;
- Regulatory actions should be eliminated before or on the same schedule as the new regulatory action they offset (to the extent feasible);
- Regulatory savings by a component in one agency can be used to offset a regulatory burden by a different component in that same agency; and
- An agency that is not able to generate sufficient savings to account for its regulatory actions may submit a request to the OMB Director to request a transfer of savings from another agency.
This guidance about the meaning and implementation of the EO will provide greater direction to the broad goals of the Trump Administration’s desire to “reduce regulation.” On its face, this “2 for 1” directive is a clear message to the agencies to reduce the regulatory burdens of their work, mostly regardless of the particular mission or underlying legislative requirements of the affected programs.
One obvious target of such effort is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), widely criticized during the Trump campaign and in the party platform as causing harm to the economy and hindering economic growth. Like any broad campaign rhetoric that becomes more substantive as the specifics are rolled out, it is interesting to see what the possible exceptions are or to speculate where implementing the broad rhetorical goal will lead to unpredictable outcomes. An example might be how reductions in record-keeping costs in one EPA program might offset new regulatory costs in another: this ironically may give new internal value to some parts of EPA which have routinely been more heavy-handed in imposing regulatory requirements. “Burdensome and unnecessary” requirements imposed by the enforcement office may be of help in the ability to propose new water program regulations -- or any number of odd fellow combinations may come to the surface.
Other unanticipated consequences will also include those regulations that are actively supported by the affected regulated entity. The pesticide industry is one example where a regulation establishing the allowable amount of a pesticide used on food -- the tolerance -- is essential for completing the registration process allowing the use of a new pesticide. So this kind of regulation fosters innovation and economic return to the industry, and without this regulation, the product will not make it to market. So the new Administration policies must allow for and distinguish between a sort of “good” regulation and a “bad” regulation -- all fitting within the broad rhetorical directive of a “2 for 1” approach to reducing regulatory burdens.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Margaret R. Graham
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has scheduled a final rule to be published on on January 26, 2017, which will temporarily delay the effective date of certain regulations until March 21, 2017. This final rule is being issued in accordance with the Presidential directive entitled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” issued January 20, 2017. Among the 30 regulations that meet those criteria is the final rule Pesticides; Certification of Pesticide Applicators, which revises EPA’s regulations concerning the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides which was scheduled to be effective as of March 6, 2017. The final rule states that it “may consider delaying the effective dates … beyond March 21, 2017,” but in that event, “the Agency would propose any later effective date for public comment.” More information on this final rule is available in our memorandum Final EPA Rule Requires Stronger Standards for Applying Riskiest Pesticides.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On January 4, 2017, the White House announced the release of the 2017 Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology (2017 Update). The Update to the Coordinated Framework provides a comprehensive summary of the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with respect to regulating biotechnology products. Together with the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products, published in September 2016, the Update to the Coordinated Framework offers a “complete picture of a robust and flexible regulatory structure that provides appropriate oversight for all products of modern biotechnology.” Within that regulatory structure, the federal agencies “maintain high standards that, based on the best available science, protect health and the environment, while also establishing transparent, coordinated, predictable and efficient regulatory practices.” To help product developers and the public understand what the regulatory pathway for products might look like, the 2017 Update presents information about agency roles and responsibilities in several forms, including:
- Graphics that illustrate agency-specific overviews of regulatory roles;
- Case studies that demonstrate how a product developer might navigate the regulatory framework; and
- A comprehensive table that summarizes the current responsibilities and the relevant coordination across EPA, FDA, and USDA for the regulatory oversight of an array of biotechnology product areas.
In its blog item, “Increasing the Transparency, Coordination, and Predictability of the Biotechnology Regulatory System,” the Obama Administration acknowledges that while the 2017 Update represents “remarkable progress by the EPA, FDA, and USDA to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology products, much work remains.” EPA, FDA, and USDA will consider the comments submitted in response to the proposed 2017 Update and information gathered during the three public engagement sessions hosted by EPA, FDA, and USDA to inform ongoing and future agency activities. In addition, the agencies commissioned an independent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on future biotechnology products. When completed, the agencies will consider the study’s findings, as well as the comments. More information on the Update to the Coordinated Framework will be available in our forthcoming memorandum, which will be available on our website under the key phrase biobased products, biotechnology.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D., Lara A. Hall, MS, RQAP-GLP, and Margaret R. Graham
On December 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice regarding the availability of final test guidelines, OCSPP Series 850 Group A -- Ecological Effects, part of a series of test guidelines established by the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) for use in testing pesticides and chemical substances to develop data for submission to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The notice states that these test guidelines “serve as a compendium of accepted scientific methodologies and protocols that are intended to provide data to inform regulatory decisions,” and they “provide guidance for conducting the test, and are also used by EPA, the public, and companies that submit data to EPA.” The test guidelines will be accessible through EPA Docket ID Numbers EPA-HQ-OPPT-2009-0150 through EPAHQ-OPPT-2009-0159, and EPA-HQ-OPPT-2009-0576 on www.regulations.gov.
The changes to test guidelines are varied. Some of the changes include:
- Simple cosmetic changes, e.g., presentation of test conditions, test validity criteria, and equations for calculating response measurements;
- Housekeeping changes, e.g., the addition of final versions of draft guidelines that had not been prepared in final yet;
- The addition of a limit test option to several acute invertebrate toxicity tests;
- Changes from “cut off” dosages in existing guidelines to limit concentrations and a change in the limit concentration for industrial chemicals from “1,000 milligrams/liter (mg/L)” to “100 mg/L” for acute toxicity tests and “10 mg/L” for chronic tests; and
- Changes to terminology, e.g., to clarify 10-day versus acute exposures for sediment-dwelling invertebrate toxicity tests and saltwater versus marine conditions.
The addition of a limit test option aligns well with the new TSCA mandate to reduce vertebrate testing as a matter of federal policy. EPA notes that certain guidelines were not issued in final, but remain available for reference as draft guidelines. In that certain ecological effects guidelines relate to guidelines already developed for the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), EPA notes that it will consider test design elements from the relevant EDSP guidelines in the development of OSCPP 850 series guidelines.
By Margaret R. Graham
On November 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the issuance of its new guidance for testing pesticides designed to reduce animal testing for acute dermal toxicity for pesticides, Guidance for Waiving Acute Dermal Toxicity Tests for Pesticide Formulations & Supporting Retrospective Analysis, in final. This guidance was issued as part of the Office of Pesticide Programs’ (OPP) Strategic Vision for implementing the 2007 National Research Council’s report on Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century.
OPP states that it “receives about 200-300 dermal formulation toxicity tests annually, each of which generally use 10 animals per test,” and “[w]e expect this waiver guidance to save 2,500 or more laboratory animals every year.” Further, as described in OPP Director Jack Housenger’s March 17, 2016, letter to stakeholders, “[t]his new policy represents significant progress toward EPA’s goal of significantly reducing the use of animals in acute effects testing.”
More information on OPP’s Strategic Direction for Adopting 21st Century Science Methodologies is available on EPA’s website and in our blog item EPA’s OPP Releases Guidance Documents Related to Strategic Vision for Adopting 21st Century Science Methodologies.
By Susan M. Kirsch
On November 1, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide General Permit for Point Source Discharges from the Application of Pesticides in the Federal Register, which regulates discharges to waters of the United States from the application of biological pesticides and chemical pesticides that leave a residue. 81 Fed. Reg. 75816. The 2016 NPDES Pesticide General Permit (PGP) replaces the 2011 PGP, which expired on October 31, 2016. The PGP applies to the following geographic areas where EPA serves as the NPDES permitting authority:
- The States of: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Idaho;
- District of Columbia;
- All U.S. territories except the U.S. Virgin Islands;
- Federal facilities in Delaware, Vermont, Colorado, and Washington;
- Discharges in Texas that are not under the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, including activities associated with oil and gas exploration (see Appendix A of the Final 2016 PGP for further description); and
- All areas of Indian Country that are not covered by an EPA-approved permitting program (see Appendix A for Indian Country covered within each EPA Region).
Similar to the 2011 PGP, the 2016 PGP contains additional permit conditions and modifications that some states and tribes added through the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 certification process and/or the Coastal Zone Management Act process. Part 9 of the 2016 PGP provides a detailed breakdown of any additional requirements. Forty-six states have delegated authority to administer state versions of the PGP. The majority of states recently revised and reissued their respective state PGPs for another five-year permit cycle.
The 2016 PGP applies to the same pesticide use patterns covered by the 2011 PGP, which are:
- Mosquito and Other Flying Insect Pest Control -- control of public health/nuisance and other flying insect pests (including mosquitoes and black flies) that develop or are present during a portion of their life cycle in or above standing or flowing water.
- Weed and Algae Pest Control -- control of weeds, algae, and pathogens that are pests in water and at water’s edge, including ditches and/or canals.
- Animal Pest Control -- control of animal pests, including fish, lampreys, insets, mollusks, and pathogens, in water and at water’s edge.
- Forest Canopy Pest Control -- application of a pesticide to a forest canopy to control the population of a pest species (e.g., insect or pathogen) where, to target the pests effectively, a portion of the pesticide unavoidably will be applied over and deposited to water.
The 2016 PGP requirements are nearly identical to those in the 2011 PGP, with the exception of the following two updates included in the 2016 PGP:
- Electronic reporting (Part 7.8) -- All reporting under the 2016 PGP (i.e., Notice of Intent (NOI), Annual Report, and Notice of Terminations (NOT) submissions) must be submitted via EPA’s eNOI system to be consistent with EPA’s Electronic Reporting Rule. EPA will make these reports publicly available through a searchable index tool -- eNOI search. More information on electronic reporting, and access to the Central Data Exchange for NOI, Annual Report, and NOT submissions is available here.
- Updated definition of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Listed Resources of Concern -- Following consultation between EPA and NMFS, as required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), EPA expanded the Listed Resources of Concern to include additional species not included in the 2011 PGP definition. Under Part 220.127.116.11, pesticide discharges that overlap with NMFS Listed Resources of Concern trigger additional NOI requirements to certify that the discharges and discharge-related activities are not likely to adversely affect federally listed “endangered” or “threatened” species, or federally-designated “critical habitat.” Permittees may consult EPA’s PGP NMFS Listed Resources of Concern -- Interactive Mapping Tool to determine whether a discharge activity will overlap with these Resources of Concern. Appendix I provides endangered species instructions for affected permittees. EPA states in the corresponding Fact Sheet for the 2016 PGP that it continues to estimate that less than two percent of the total number of Operators in the PGP coverage areas will need to meet additional permit requirements in order to meet ESA-related provisions.
The 2016 PGP permit conditions went into effect on October 31, 2016, and the PGP will expire in five years on October 31, 2021. 2016 PGP coverage is automatic through January 12, 2017, without the submission of an NOI, but pesticide Operators (i.e., pesticide applicators) must comply with all 2016 PGP conditions as of October 31, 2016. For any discharges commencing on or before January 12, 2017, that will continue after this date, a decision-maker must submit an NOI no later than January 2, 2017, to ensure PGP coverage, and for any discharges subsequent to January 12, 2017, an NOI submission is required no later than 10 days before the first discharge. Table 1-1 at Part 1.2.3 outlines which decision-makers must submit NOIs based on the particular pesticide use pattern, location (i.e., if discharging to a designated Outstanding National Resource Water), and acreage thresholds. Table 1-2 at Part 1.2.3 provides applicable NOI submission deadlines, including grace periods for NOI filing for discharges in response to a Declared Pest Emergency.
EPA’s webpage for pesticide NPDES permitting includes links to the final 2016 PGP, a related fact sheet, the permitting decision tool, and information on eNOI and ESA procedures.
Although the 2016 PGP largely mirrors the 2011 version of the permit, it will be important for decision-makers to familiarize themselves with the new electronic reporting requirements (Part 7.8). EPA’s eNOI system is publicly searchable and could subject PGP permit holders to additional scrutiny by citizens and advocacy groups concerned about potential environmental and public health implications of pesticide applications in their areas. Decision-makers should consult EPA’s PGP NMFS Listed Resources of Concern -- Interactive Mapping Tool and the Alternative PGP Sources of Information for NMFS Listed Resources of Concern to determine where discharges may overlap with these areas and trigger additional permit conditions.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Margaret R. Graham
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced the availability of two proposed test methods and associated testing guidance for evaluating antimicrobial pesticides against two biofilm bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, for comments. EPA states that registrants of antimicrobial products with public health claims are “required to submit efficacy data to EPA in support of the product’s registration” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA is soliciting comments on the clarity of the standard operating procedures and the regulatory guidance. The two test methods are:
The Draft Guidance to Assess the Efficacy of Antimicrobial Pesticide Products Intended to Control Public Health Biofilms on Hard, Non-Porous Surfaces describes biofilms and their public health significance; the two test procedures for developing efficacy data supporting biofilm claims; products that may be eligible for biofilm claims; test criteria; data submission procedures for efficacy data; and labeling guidance.
The draft guidance states that the term biofilm “is reserved for claims against biofilm that contain specific bacteria that are directly or indirectly infectious or pathogenic to humans,” and “biofilm claims are considered to be public health claims for which the agency must review and approve appropriate efficacy data.” EPA states: “Examples of use sites that may be supported by the biofilm test methodologies herein, and found acceptable, include restrooms, shower stalls, sink basins or drains (excluding the drain pipe) and nearby hard, non-porous surfaces of walls, countertops, and instrument trays in patient care areas of hospitals. In contrast, claims against non-public health slimicides must also be supported by appropriate efficacy data, however, submission of the data is only required when requested by the EPA.”
The Draft Guidance also sets forth examples of acceptable label claims against public health biofilms and acceptable non-public health claims. The examples of acceptable label claims against public health biofilms are:
- Kills 99.9999% of bacteria* in biofilm on a hard, non-porous surface;
- Kills a minimum of 99.9999% of bacteria* in biofilm;
- Reduces at least 99.9999% of bacteria* growing in biofilm;
- Formulated to kill 99.9999% of bacteria* in biofilm;
- Other related claims:
- Kills biofilm bacteria*; and
- Penetrates biofilm, killing the bacteria* living there.
*[List of bacteria “tested as a biofilm”; at a minimum, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus].
Examples of acceptable non-public health claims supported by appropriate efficacy data include:
- Cleans away microorganism slime/grunge;
- Maintains control of slime; and
- Controls slime-forming microorganisms.
Comments will be accepted until December 5, 2016.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Timothy D. Backstrom
On September 19, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report, EPA Needs a Risk-Based Strategy to Assure Continued Effectiveness of Hospital-Level Disinfectants, the result of OIG’s review of EPA’s Antimicrobial Testing Program (ATP) to “determine whether the program ensures the efficacy of EPA-registered hospital sterilants, disinfectants, and tuberculocides (“hospital-level disinfectants”); and to evaluate options for improving the ATP.” OIG found that the ATP “does not assure that hospital-level disinfectant products continue to be effective after they are registered,” specifically that:
- Once the EPA tests a product and it passes, it is listed as Agency Confirmed Efficacy on the agency’s website and is typically not tested again; the long-term efficacy of the product cannot be assured.
- EPA relies on manufacturers to voluntarily submit product samples for testing. In the last three years, out of the approximately 300 registered hospital disinfectant products that have not been tested, manufacturers submitted only 12 samples to EPA for ATP efficacy testing.
Importantly, however, OIG concludes: “Although the program as currently designed and conducted does not assure that most hospital disinfectant products continue to be effective, at this point it is redundant and unnecessary to make adjustments, since the EPA is concurrently having the products re-registered.”
OIG makes two major recommendations:
- EPA should suspend administering the current Antimicrobial Testing Program until completion of the one-time re-registration process.
- EPA should develop a risk-based antimicrobial testing strategy to assure the effectiveness of public health pesticides used in hospital settings once products are in the marketplace. At a minimum, OIG states, the strategy should:
- Include a framework for periodic testing to assure products continue to be effective after registration.
- Define a program scope that is flexible and responsive to current and relevant public health risks.
- Identify risk factors for selecting products to test.
- Identify the method to be used for obtaining samples for testing.
- Designate a date to commence risk-based post-registration testing.
In its response, EPA agreed with OIG’s recommendations, and stated it will develop a plan to coordinate and implement the discontinuation of the present-day program, with the closure of the ATP program to take place by November 2017. EPA also stated that by December 2018 it plans to develop a risk-based strategy to assure the effectiveness of public health pesticides used in hospital settings once products are in the marketplace.
Registrants of the affected products should monitor closely the development of EPA’s plans both to discontinue the program and to establish this new risk-based strategy for assuring product efficacy.