EPA Announces New Policy on CBI in Health and Safety Studies

by Matt Shudtz | May 27, 2010

EPA today announced (pdf) that it will begin a general practice of reviewing – and likely rejecting – confidentiality claims regarding chemical identities and supporting data in health and safety studies submitted to the agency under TSCA.  The news is long overdue, but very welcome.

One of Congress’s primary goals in drafting TSCA was to create regulatory mechanisms through which EPA would gather information about the human health and environmental effects of toxic chemicals. Recognizing the societal benefits of broad disclosure of that information, Congress created an exemption for “health and safety studies” from TSCA § 14’s general prohibition on EPA’s disclosure of information submitted to the agency and claimed to be trade secrets or confidential business information (CBI). Health and safety information, in other words, was too important to be hidden from the public.

But despite the plain language of the statute, EPA for years simply turned a blind eye when health and safety studies were submitted under the Act’s information disclosure requirements and stamped as CBI. In fact, EPA even developed a process through which companies could claim that elements of a health and safety study – including chemical identities and supporting data – pass as CBI.

When companies submit certain information to EPA and claim it deserves confidential or trade secret protections, they have to substantiate their request with an explanation of the harms that would result from disclosure and the efforts they’ve taken to keep the information ...

Congress Says Ask, but Toyota and Fellow Automakers Say Don't Tell: The Story of NHTSA and Industry Secrecy

by Shana Campbell Jones | February 22, 2010
Ten years ago, after NHTSA received reports of numerous deaths and injuries linked to Firestone tires and Ford Explorers, Congress passed the TREAD Act, bolstering the authority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to identify possible defects in vehicles and tires by collecting information (“early warning data”) from auto and tire manufacturers. The law requires disclosure of data about incidents involving deaths or injuries, injury and property damage claims (including lawsuits), consumer complaints, warranty claims, field reports (problems ...

EPA's Lax Confidential Business Information Policy and the Importance of the Hampshire Associates Study

by Wendy Wagner | February 08, 2010
After laying dormant for decades, industries’ abuse of EPA’s permissive confidential business information program (CBI) is finally getting some serious attention. An investigation in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and more recently articles in the Washington Post and Risk Policy Report; a report by the Environmental Working Group; and posts by Richard Denison at EDF, are turning the tide. Those of us at CPR who have spilled ink on various CBI problems over the years (i.e., Mary Lyndon, Tom McGarity, Sid ...

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