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EPA submits TSCA fees rule for review and approval

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The US EPA has submitted its final rule covering how it will administer fees under the reformed TSCA to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval.

The 31 August submission marks the beginning of the standard inter-agency review process for significant rules, which must take place before the final version is published in the Federal Register.

The EPA published a proposed version of the rule in February. It sets out a schedule for how the agency plans to collect some $20m in fees from industry each year.

This figure represents 25% of the estimated $80.2m annual cost to run its chemical review activities – a number disputed by some in the consumer advocacy community as too low.

In a consultation on the proposal, industry groups complained that the fees on new chemicals have been set too high and will threaten innovation. And several groups requested that the EPA replace its "relatively simplistic" structure with a tiered approach for charging industry the costs of risk evaluations.

The agency extended the consultation in April to take comments on how it will define small businesses under the rule – a crucial distinction, as they will be eligible for an 80% discount on specific fees relative to larger businesses.

It remains to be seen whether the EPA will significantly amend its proposed fees in the final rule. Other major TSCA rulemakings – including the risk evaluation and prioritisation rules – saw marked differences in their final versions compared with first drafts.

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