environmental compliance

EPA’s new policy may result in public disclosure of confidential business information if confidentiality is not properly claimed.

By Julia A. Hatcher, Ann Claassen, and Stijn van Osch

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 15, 2019 that, beginning August 15, 2019, EPA would no longer provide notices of deficiency to businesses that submit procedurally flawed confidential business information (CBI) claims under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Instead, EPA will only send a notice that the agency does not consider such information confidential, and will make such information available to the public. This policy change, which EPA published in the Federal Register on July 16, means that businesses should take care to provide complete and accurate substantiation for CBI, or risk public disclosure of confidential information.

By Paul Davies, Bridget Rose Reineking, and Andrew Westgate

In recent months, teams of inspectors from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Communist Party’s anti-corruption commission have conducted a slew of surprise inspections of various industrial facilities throughout China. Estimates suggest that China has temporarily closed as many as 40% of the country’s factories at some point in the last year — sometimes for weeks at a time. The recent crackdown is the fourth in a series of region-wide inspections that began in July 2016, which together amount to some of the most dedicated and comprehensive efforts to enforce environmental compliance in the country’s history.

China’s somewhat urgent enforcement of environmental laws appears — at least in part — motivated by China’s 2013 pledge to reduce emissions from heavily polluting industries by 30% before the end of 2017. Earlier this month, the country ramped up environmental pledges at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, announcing an ambitious plan to reduce the concentration of hazardous fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from 47 micrograms in 2016, to 35 in 2035, reported Xinhua, the China’s official press agency.