Obama to dump Bush-era ChAMP chemicals plan - refiners group

18 June 2009 23:26  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said on Thursday that the Obama administration plans to abandon the North American chemicals management programme known as ChAMP, but the administration said it has made no decision yet.

The association said that it has confirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will dump the Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) that was established during the Bush administration as the result of a US, Canada and Mexico summit meeting at Montebello, Quebec, in August 2007.

Also known as the Montebello Agreement, the ChAMP was set up under the EPA and designed to manage the risk-based assessment and characterisation of more than 9,000 chemicals and substances produced in quantities of 25,000 lb (11.3 tonnes) or more annually.

The ChAMP was hailed by Bush administration EPA director Stephen Johnson and chemical industry leaders as a preferred and more effective approach to the characterisation and management of chemicals in commerce than the EU’s REACH system.

REACH, the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals, is based on the precautionary principle, meaning that a substance must be proven harmless to human life and the environment before it can be put in commerce.

The European precautionary approach has been widely condemned by the US chemicals industry.

The ChAMP takes a risk-based approach, considering the toxicity and health risks of a substance along with the degree of exposure to workers or the general population.

The NPRA said it has “learned and confirmed” that EPA plans to shut down the ChAMP to, instead, focus on a command-and-control chemicals management approach.  REACH is considered a command-and-control system.

“It is extremely disheartening that the administration would abandon its priority-setting chemicals management process before it is even given the opportunity to work,” said NPRA president Charles Drevna.

He urged the EPA and the Obama administration to reconsider the decision.

However, EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said late on Thursday that there has been no final determination on whether ChAMP will continue to be supported by the administration.

Kemery said that “EPA administrator Lisa Jackson highlighted the need to strengthen EPA’s chemical management programme as one of her priorities coming in to the agency [and] as part of this process, the agency is evaluating its existing chemicals programme, including ChAMP”.

He said EPA will announce its decision on ChAMP and other chemicals management matters before the end of the third quarter.

But he noted that while the EPA’s evaluation of ChAMP continues, the agency has suspended work on the development and listing of risk-based chemical evaluations being done under the system.

NPRA declined to say how it had confirmed that EPA has decided to end the ChAMP.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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