2020 saw SOCMA’s Government Relations team continuing its efforts in support of the Specialty & Fine Chemical industry. With the collaboration from members, we were able to advocate for the industry despite not being able to host our Annual Policy Summit & Fly-in.
For questions or learn about what issues we tackle for members, contact our Government Relations team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOCMA worked closely with many federal agencies including EPA, OSHA, DHS, FDA, USTR and others to provided support to member companies during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, SOCMA helped construct the DHS “Essential Industries” guidance, helped coordinate an effort by FEMA to distribute cloth masks, encouraged federal agencies to grant enforcement discretion and help alleviate tariff burdens with USITC. SOCMA also provided numerous webinars and discussion forums to help keep members abreast of methods to overcome the obstacles created by COVID.
Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards:
SOCMA, after diligent work for over two years with a coalition of interested parties, was able to secure a long-term extension of CFATS, the Department of Homeland Security program focused on the security of high-risk chemical facilities. The long-sought extension was a straight extension of the existing program with no additional requirements or obligations for program participants. This provides SOCMA members the consistency of the compliance obligations required for companies to properly plan for the future.
SOCMA lobbied to remove many of the tariffs on inputs that are imported from China that member companies use in the manufacturing process. Additionally, after the lists were published SOCMA worked to win broad exclusions for SOCMA members as well as individual support for various chemicals.
CERCLA 108(b) Financial Assurance Determination:
SOCMA led a significant effort to support EPA’s proposed decision to not impose new financial responsibility requirements for facilities in the chemical manufacturing industry under Section 108(b) of CERCLA. SOCMA and its allied trades conducted an in-depth analysis of EPA data on federally funded response actions at Superfund sites, leading to the submission of robust technical recommendations on how EPA could strengthen its rule. EPA finalized its determination with SOCMA’s feedback incorporated. The final 108(b) determination will prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in new annualized costs to industry, namely in the form of having to retain additional financial assurance instruments to cover the potential liabilities of a future cleanup.
Reclassification of Major Sources as Area Sources:
SOCMA strongly supported in public comments EPA’s rulemaking for the reclassification of major sources as area sources under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. The final rule amended the NESHAP regulations to provide that a major source can now be reclassified to area source status at any time upon reducing its emissions and Potential to Emit to below the major source thresholds.
American Innovation and Manufacturing Act:
SOCMA lobbied congressional offices on behalf of members to develop exclusions for the use of HFCs, which will be phased out by the AIM Act, in the manufacturing process. Specifically, SOCMA was able to secure an exclusion for the manufacture of etching gases and for HFCs that are completely consumed in the manufacturing process.
TSCA Chemical Data Reporting:
SOCMA has remained heavily engaged in supporting members through the 2020 CDR cycle. SOCMA backed amendments to the CDR requirements easing the reporting burdens for manufacturers. Most importantly, SOCMA successfully petitioned EPA to update the small manufacturer standard, which remained unchanged for more than 30 years. The updated standard provides meaningful regulatory relief to small entrepreneurial companies who may now be exempt from CDR under the standard’s revised revenue-based thresholds. SOCMA also successfully petitioned EPA to extend the CDR submission deadline by 60 days, in light of the significant technical problems encountered while trying to electronically file their reports.
TSCA New Chemicals Program:
SOCMA has continued to advance, through comments, hearing testimony, and direct lobbying, policy recommendations to ensure that the reviews of new chemical notices under TSCA Section 5 meet statutory deadlines, adopt appropriate risk assessment approaches, and avoid unnecessary limitations on commercial manufacture.
TSCA User Fees:
SOCMA lobbied EPA to consider implementing exemptions to the TSCA Fees Rule in response to significant concerns regarding the extremely costly risk evaluation fees applying to de minimis commercial activity. EPA agreed to implement exemptions to the current rule’s self-identification requirements for manufacturers that import a High Priority chemical in an article or produce it as a byproduct or impurity. With EPA set to issue a proposed rule on the TSCA fee revisions, SOCMA is also pursuing a volume-based exemption for the Section 6 risk evaluation fees and reductions in the fees for Section 5 Pre-Manufacture Notices (PMNs) and exemption requests. Additionally, SOCMA developed guidance to assist members with understanding EPA’s self-identification requirements.
Refrigerant Management Program Revisions:
SOCMA argued to EPA that it went beyond its authority under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act to regulate non-exempt substitute refrigerants in the same manner as substances that have ozone depleting potential. EPA agreed to rescind its 2016 extension of leak repair requirements to appliances that use substitute refrigerants, such as HFCs and HFOs. The leak repair provisions under the refrigerant management program now again only apply to class I and class II ozone-depleting refrigerants, significantly reducing the compliance burdens for companies who use such substitute refrigerants in their manufacturing processes.
MON NESHAP Amendments:
EPA’s proposed miscellaneous organic chemical (MON) manufacturing air toxics rule would have imposed burdensome new requirements and controls on ethylene oxide (EO) emission sources. The finalized MON rule incorporated SOCMA’s concerns regarding the practical difficulties of new monitoring and operational requirements on batch manufacturing – the 50 ppmv HAP and 200 lb/yr uncontrolled HAP emission cut-offs no longer apply to batch process vents in EO service, and the rule will now allow for a one-hour average for batch process emission reporting.
Chemical Safety Board Accidental Release Reporting:
The CSB issued new reporting requirements for owners or operators of a stationary source to report accidentals release into the ambient air. SOCMA forcefully critiqued the new requirements, criticizing the narrow window for reporting (then proposed at 4 hours) and its low-definition threshold for a serious injury (which would have triggered reporting to CSB for all OSHA recordable incidents, such as the provision of first aid or outpatient care). SOCMA’s advocacy was successful in convincing CSB to increase the time window for reporting to 8 hours and to revise the definition of serious injury to mean an in-patient hospitalization, easing the overall reporting burdens.
TSCA MCL Risk Evaluation:
SOCMA strongly critiqued the TSCA methylene chloride risk evaluation, which found that MCL presents unreasonable risk when used in pharmaceutical manufacturing. This finding was concerning not only because TSCA explicitly excludes drug products under the statute, but EPA also used outdated and overly conservative exposure models to make the determination. SOCMA was successful in getting the risk evaluation finalized with pharmaceutical production excluded as a non-TSCA use and is continuing to assist members through the ongoing risk management process to ensure restrictions on MCL are minimally burdensome and account for the unique conditions of use at member facilities.
RCRA Manufacturing Process Unit Exclusion:
SOCMA is continuing to work with EPA to protect the industry from the misinterpretation of the MPU Exclusion, an exclusion used daily in the specialty chemical industry which excludes specific equipment and uses from RCRA requirements. SOCMA was able to support members on the issue by forming the MPU Task Force which has lobbied and educated EPA staff. Additionally, the efforts of SOCMA and the MPU Task Force were able to abate new enforcement actions.
SOCMA lobbied for and strongly supported both the passage and enactment of USMCA, which replaced NAFTA as the trade agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico. SOCMA members will distinctly benefit from the new chemical rules of origin which will be both easier to comply with and will be stronger against fraudulent imports.