CPA Proposes Major Changes to EPA’s Proposed Formaldehyde Emissions Regulations

October 17th, 2013 by Editor

The Composite Panel Association (CPA) recently submitted extensive public comments criticizing EPA’s proposed formaldehyde emissions regulations, claiming it is ignoring specific Congressional directives and the established model in use by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The proposed rules, released for public comment in May, are intended to implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, signed by President Obama in 2010.

“EPA’s proposals will be a jobs killer for American manufacturing due to the agency’s departure from what was intended by Congress, and that must change,” says Tom Julia, CPA president. “These proposed regulations would impose costly, unnecessary burdens to finished products manufacturers that could shutdown domestic production across several industries.

“We applaud EPA’s consultations with industry over the past three years and its stated desire to synchronize the national standard with California’s ATCM. This makes it especially surprising that EPA has moved in an alarming direction on a number of key provisions,” Julia adds.

CPA has urged changes to EPA’s proposed rules in the following:

Strengthen Third Party Certifier (TPC) Requirements. CPA argues that EPA’s rules must strengthen the global TPC system that was established by CARB in 2008. EPA has shown a desire to ensure a consistent, transparent and reliable TPC system, but is too willing to outsource major decisions to either the TPC’s themselves or related accreditation bodies. CPA believes this is not in the public interest and has made specific recommendations for strengthening the current system including disallowing TPCs to unilaterally decide when clients are eligible for reduced testing or other exemptions.

Require Notice, Don’t Stop Commerce. EPA has proposed a complete stoppage of commerce where there has been an indication of a non-complying event at the initial source of panel production, a result that could encumber the flow of commerce for weeks or longer. This is unconscionable in a free market economy and should be withdrawn. Instead, CPA has proposed that EPA require extensive formal notice, obliging panel manufacturers to advise customers within 72 hours of a non-complying event.

Stop New Regulation of Laminated Products. EPA has proposed a dramatic expansion of CARB’s regulation of businesses using hardwood plywood in their production, effectively turning thousands of American manufacturers of furniture, cabinets and other wood products into the equivalent of panel mills. This would subject them to expensive and redundant testing and certification requirements that could bankrupt many of these businesses while serve no compelling public interest. CPA’s counter-proposal would require them to demonstrate the chain-of-custody use of compliant composite panel cores that already adhere to emission limits.

Include a De Minimis Exemption. Notwithstanding a Congressional directive, EPA chose not to write a de minimis exemption into its proposals. CPA has proposed a specific formula for addressing component, intermediary and finished products that contain a very small amount of composite wood by weight or volume. These products would still be subject to meeting the emissions requirements, but would be relieved of costly labeling and record-keeping duties.

Respect Performance-Based Chemistry. EPA was never given the authority to show favoritism for one adhesive technology over another, nor to use its regulation to favor products offered by certain companies over others. Throughout EPA’s proposals, however, there is a bias against ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) technology, even though these formulations are already a common and proven approach to meeting CARB’s emission requirements.

Protect Confidential Business Information. EPA’s proposals would require composite panel manufacturers to disclose proprietary, confidential operational data to customers upon request. CPA argues that this is an improper expansion of governmental power into the private sector and should be fully withdrawn. Such disclosures should only be the result of private party agreements.

CPA’s submissions on EPA’s proposed formaldehyde rules are in the public record and available on the association’s website.

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