3M, Boeing Among Companies Expected to Pay EPA Chemical Fee (1)

Aug. 26, 2020, 7:42 PMUpdated: Aug. 26, 2020, 8:20 PM

3M Co., S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., and Boeing Co. are among dozens of companies that the EPA expects to pay a combined chemical oversight bill of more than $25 million, according a list published Wednesday.

The list updates a preliminary version that the Environmental Protection Agency published in January, and significantly reduces the numbers of companies that jointly may have to pay the EPA $1.35 million per-chemical fee for 20 chemical risk evaluations it will carry out over the next three years.

The conclusions the agency reaches about the risks those chemicals pose to people’s health and to the environment will determine whether the compounds must be regulated.

EPA officials cut the number of companies on the financial hook after its January list infuriated many companies, especially those importing manufactured goods such as automobiles made with one or more of the 20 chemicals. By March, the agency changed course and assured three types of businesses on they wouldn’t have to pay.

The $1.35 million per-chemical fee that companies must jointly pay offsets some of the agency’s risk evaluation and other costs the agency incurs due to its increased chemical oversight that the 2016 Toxic Substances Control Act amendments mandated.

Wednesday’s updated interim final list “gives businesses and other stakeholders an opportunity to review the list for accuracy and provides time for businesses to engage in initial outreach regarding the formation of consortia to share in fee payments,” the agency’s announcement said.

Exact Amount Varies

The precise amount any company will pay will depend on negotiations between manufacturers of the same chemical who join such consortia, or groups.

The number of companies responsible for paying for each chemical assessment ranges from none, in the case of one chemical, to dozens for formaldehyde.

EPA officials projected receiving $27 million for all 20 risk evaluations. But changes to the interim final list suggest the agency may only get $25.65 million. Wednesday’s list says no company makes or imports one chemical that’s found in paints, tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate, and hence no one must pay that fee.

If there are no companies that qualify as a fee payer for one of the 20 chemicals, the EPA won’t collect any fees for that chemical, an agency spokesman said.

‘Reasonable Fees’

American Chemistry Council, which represents the bulk of U.S. chemical manufacturers, is reviewing the responsible parties’ fees lists to see that TSCA risk assessment costs are fairly allocated, spokesman Jon Corley said.

“The agency has a statutory responsibility to collect reasonable fees to support the efficient and effective implementation of the 2016 amendments to TSCA,” Corley said.

The EPA was supposed to publish a final list of companies responsible for paying these fees in June, when it was supposed to have published final plans, or “scopes,” describing the issues it would examine in its 20 chemical risk evaluations. But the final plans aren’t finished, nor has the agency announced a clear timetable for their release.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters Wednesday during a briefing on a different topic that he’ll be updated next week on the status of the final scopes.

The 20 chemical risk evaluation that EPA already has launched are the second batch it’s conducting under amended TSCA. The agency’s final conclusions about the risks its first batch of 10 chemicals pose should be published by the end of the year, Wheeler said.

(Updated in 10th paragraph with comment from EPA.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington at prizzuto@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloombergindustry.com; Chuck McCutcheon at cmccutcheon@bloombergindustry.com

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