Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced their approval of the latest EPA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for the 2013 critical use exemptions for methyl bromide. Since 2005 the EPA has been trying to phase out the use of methyl bromide in agricultural applications since it is one of the chemicals covered under the Montreal Protocol to protect stratospheric ozone. Each year the EPA must provide a rule allowing the use of methyl bromide in those critical agricultural applications where there are not effective alternatives to that chemical.
Once again this rule will be published well after the first of the year requiring the EPA to issue an extra legal letter to manufacturers and importers informing them of how much methyl bromide they will be allowed to make or import to support agricultural uses next year while they are waiting on the regulatory process to wind its bureaucratic way through Washington.
While the EPA was a month later submitting their NPRM to OMB than they were last year, the OMB took almost two months longer than last year in approving the NPRM. As appears to be usual with this recurring rule, the OMB approval was issued ‘consistent with change’, meaning that some minor changes will have to be made to the NPRM before it is published in the Federal Register. I expect to see that early next week.
The EPA does have some excuse for their later than normal submission of the NPRM. In June they approved a new use for the chemical as a fumigant to imported feed-grade cotton seeds. This probably had some impact on the amount of methyl bromide that would be allowed to be used next year.
At this point long time readers will be expecting to see my standard rant about the removal of methyl bromide (a toxic inhalation hazard chemical) from the DHS chemical of concern list for the CFATS program. I’ll forgo the whole rant until the actual NPRM is published.