Friday, November 8, 2013

The EPA Significant New Use Rule (“SNUR”): More Bureaucracy or Real Change?

The U.S. EPA recently promulgated a Significant New Use Rule (“SNUR”) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The SNUR would require companies to notify EPA prior to newly manufacturing, importing, or processing certain perfluorinated chemicals commonly used in carpet treatment and manufacture.  See Christopher L. Bell, Environmental Protection Agency(“EPA”) Promulgates Significant New Use Rule for Perfluorinated Chemicals – And Limits Its Applicability to “Articles,” Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The National Law Review, October 29, 2013. 

The newly promulgated SNUR is different from prior TSCA rules issued by EPA because it focuses on certain articles containing the chemicals, whereas in the pasts EPA was only concerned with the chemicals themselves. Id.  The proposed SNUR was broader in its effect on all articles that contain the perfluorinated chemicals.  The final rule was narrower in scope, affecting only identified articles, namely carpets and carpet pieces. Id.  Perhaps comments submitted by affected industries and others during the comment period on the proposed rule provided information or reasons for EPA to narrow the scope of the rule. 

Hopefully, this rule does not simply have the effect of creating more paper-work for industry.  It will remain to see what practical affect this SNUR or other newly promulgated SNURs will have on the ultimate goal of chemical safety in the United States. 

-- Contributed by Ashley Ivanov

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