Action Alert | Preparing for Chemical Issues Facing Vermont Manufacturers

Regulation of chemicals and related matters, including new financial and legal liabilities, were major issues in the State House during the last legislative session, even more so than in recent years.  Although AIV and our coalition of stakeholders were ultimately successful in helping to forestall potentially damaging legislation, it can be expected that manufacturers and other businesses will face similar challenges in the upcoming Legislature, with potentially significant consequences at stake.  The following provides a brief overview of some key issues and opportunities that we will be following up on in greater detail.

Action Request | Contact AIV to Stay Informed and Engaged

AIV has led efforts for several years to coordinate Vermont companies and national stakeholders in engaging on these issues as a coalition and individually, and we will continue to do so as we head into the new legislative session.  All manufacturers and related businesses are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the issues and proposals we can expect to face, and to contact us at info@aivt.org to learn more about them and the options and opportunities to keep informed, coordinate with peers, and to engage with the Administration and legislators on those issues that could significantly impact their operations.  It would be very helpful if you could provide us with a lead contact person in your company to help coordinate information and activities related to chemical issues.

We can expect to face both returning and new legislative proposals, as well as issues raised by the Governor’s Interagency Committee on Chemical Management, which has been developing both administrative and legislative proposals, some of which overlap with long running legislative debates and some of which might be helpful and some harmful to manufacturers and other companies in Vermont.

Legislative Proposals Likely to Return

Among the legislative issues likely to return in the coming year are:

  • Creating expansive legal and financial liabilities for any personal or property harm, or medical monitoring, connected to the release of chemicals with very low criteria for liability and without regard to whether the release is in compliance with existing permits and health or environmental standards.
  • Expanding the number of chemicals and lowering triggering thresholds for amounts of chemicals and company size under Vermont’s Toxic Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction statutes (10 VSA §6623 – §6632).
  • Lowering or removing scientific standards and criteria for adding new chemicals subject to reporting requirements and regulation or prohibition in children’s products under Vermont’s Chemicals of High Concern to Children statutes (18 VSA §1771 -§1779).
  • Various potential proposals for expanding the scope of existing regulations over more chemicals or more products, as well as prohibitions or restrictions on new specific chemicals or products.

Interagency Committee on Chemical Management and Potential Regulatory and Legislative Steps

As reported previously, Governor Scott last year signed an Executive Order to address several chemical regulatory issues, including many addressed in legislative proposals noted above.  The Executive Order established an Interagency Committee to review and make regulatory and legislative recommendations on a number of issues, most notably:

  • Possible changes to chemicals covered and thresholds triggered under Vermont’s Toxics Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction statute.
  • Creation of a new chemical inventory reporting requirement.
  • Possible changes to streamline and/or consolidate existing chemical regulations.

This summer the ICCM issued an initial report with a number of potential recommendations (click here to read the report).  The recommendations fall into three main categories, and the following are summaries from the report:

A. Creation of a Centralized Electronic Reporting System and Inventory (CERSI). This recommendation would create a central, unified location for electronically reporting, analyzing, and accessing information related to chemical management and use in the State.  The system would make chemical reporting simpler by creating a “one-stop-shop” reporting portal for the regulated community (reporting entities), and would make the collected information available to State regulators and to the public with appropriate access and security filters.  The system would allow for a more comprehensive understanding of chemical use and management activities occurring in the State.  Functionally, CERSI would guide the reporting entity to the appropriate reporting forms by presenting the customer with an initial series of questions and choices to determine what information they need to report.  The system would have a single log-in and account management for State chemical reporting by the regulated business customer.  The system would provide online reporting forms including electronic signature, document upload capability, and payment processing where fees are collected.  Once information is submitted, this system would provide an administrative console to allow state administrators the ability to monitor, manage and review data before it is uploaded to local Agency databases.  Data can then be extracted, transformed, and loaded from local agency databases to a central data warehouse which will allow regulators and the public to view chemical reporting activities and information across the state.  The system would also include a website that provides the state, via role-based access through an internal facing portal, the ability to query chemical reporting activities and search activities via a map interface and a website that provides the public, via a public-facing portal, with the ability to query chemical reporting activities including the ability to search activities via a map interface.  

B.  Establishment of a review framework for evaluating necessary changes to state chemical reporting and record keeping, and coordinating chemical management actions across state agencies. This recommendation would establish a framework for State review, coordination, and analysis of risks to human health and the environment posed by a chemical, class of chemicals, or grouping of chemicals.  Under the proposed process, an Agency or Department would propose that the ICCM review the current applicable recordkeeping and reporting requirements pertaining to a chemical, class or grouping of chemicals.  The ICCM would then engage a technical team and citizen advisory panel to provide input and assistance in its review, culminating in the ICCM providing recommendations to the affected regulatory entities.  This process is intended to align state oversight and ensure coordination of chemical management across state government.

C.  Improvement of the Toxics Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction Act (TURA). Under this recommendation, the effectiveness of pollution prevention and toxics use reduction planning efforts under TURA would be improved by updating the list of chemicals and threshold amounts required to be reported under current law to include the Toxics Release Inventory List, regulated Hazardous Wastes, and the list of Chemicals of High Concern to Children. This update would also include a subset of chemicals with lower thresholds (i.e., Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic chemicals – identified in the Toxics Release Inventory chemical list with lower thresholds).  Reporting requirements would also be amended to include entities with less than 10 fulltime employees onsite at a Vermont facility but 500 or more corporate employees total.  Other improvements include providing additional staff resources to implement the improved regulatory program, additional training for planners, creation of an electronic database and electronic reporting, and allowance of alternative resource or environmental impact planning.

We will be providing additional information and updates regarding the ICCM’s deliberations and related developments and will be coordinating engagement with the Administration and the ICCM by Vermont manufacturers and national stakeholders.  However, companies should take note of some specifics within these recommendations and contact us if you need more information or have concerns or suggestions.

In recommendation B, the report identifies specific chemicals to examine for new regulations:

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Diisocyanates
  • 1,4-dioxane

In recommendation C, the report makes a number of recommendations for changes to Vermont’s Toxic Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction statutes (10 VSA §6623 – §6632) that could be of concern to Vermont manufacturers that could be affected.  Two recommendations of particular note include:

  • Adding the list of Chemicals of High Concern to Children to the list of chemicals covered under the TURA statutes. The current CHCC list includes 66 chemicals, 25 of which are not already covered by TURA.  To review the CHCC list, click here.
  • Lowering the threshold for the definition of a large user of chemicals of special concern to the reporting thresholds under 40 CFR §372.28 (click here to review chemicals and thresholds). This would be a significant lowering of the threshold for the chemicals in question.

If you company or your products have any involvement with these chemicals, please contact us to discuss further.

Ongoing Rulemaking Process

As reported previously, in an ongoing rulemaking process extending from last year, two potential rules are under consideration regarding compliance and implementation of the Chemicals of High Concern to Children statutes (18 VSA §1771 -§1779).  Under the statute, a Working Group of agency personnel and non-governmental stakeholders is charged with considering and making recommendations as to whether or not the Department of Health should initiate rulemaking banning or otherwise restricting or regulating certain products containing certain chemicals.  The Working Group has been asked to review whether or not products containing one of two phthalates, specifically Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP; CAS 117-81-7) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP; CAS 84-74-2), should be regulated.  The timetable for further action is uncertain.

The second rule making process is an update to the primary implementation rule for the statutes, including a number of proposed additions to the list of chemicals covered by the law.  Twenty new chemicals have been proposed.  The Department held a pre-formal rulemaking hearing on draft revisions to the rule at the beginning of the year and AIV and other stakeholders provided preliminary comments, but it is uncertain when further comments or other steps will be sought.

To review the initial draft revisions, including the new chemicals proposed to be covered, email us at info@aivt.org for a copy.