20 April 2000 21:20 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Chemical producers and other manufacturers are asking the courts to block an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule they say will create new reporting burdens, industry officials said Thursday.
Joined by the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) and other industry trade groups, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed a motion Tuesday on behalf of 13 industry segments, asking the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to halt the EPA action, at least temporarily.
CMA, NAM and others are objecting to what they view as a new EPA "rule" issued by the agency 21 December last year. EPA calls the measure a "guidance," a regulatory status which exempts the action from the more extensive notice and comment procedures that new rulemaking would require.
The EPA "guidance" seeks to clarify the definition of a "federally permitted release" under the Superfund law. CMA and others object on grounds the new EPA "rule" would greatly increase companies' obligations to report toxic and hazardous releases to federal, state and local authorities.
The new guidance defines which atmospheric emissions must be reported under Superfund law and which are exempt from reporting because they qualify as a "federally permitted release."
The CMA/NAM petition asks the DC district appellate court to block EPA implementation of the guidance or rule until the industrial groups' lawsuit challenging the guidance can be heard. Unless the court acts to block it, the new EPA guidance likely will go into effect around the end of May, according to EPA.
"Even though the EPA suggests the interim guidance will have no effect on reporting burdens, we estimate it will lead to an avalanche of between 1.5m and 2.25m new emission reports and could bury the emergency-response system," said NAM general counsel Jan Amundson.
The groups' petition also questioned EPA's legal authority to establish the interim guidance.
"Procedurally, we object to the process used by EPA in developing the guidance and believe EPA misreads the statute and misinterprets legislative intent," said Amundson.
"Finally," she added, "due to the massive impacts on industry, especially small business, and state and local emergency-response authorities, we believe the EPA is acting arbitrarily and capriciously."
The petition contends the guidance is invalid and should be thrown out by the court because it is actually a rulemaking.
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