Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted their final rule for the 2013 Critical Use Exemption from the Phaseout of Methyl Bromide to OMB. This rule will authorize the use of methyl bromide for critical agricultural uses that are exempted from the provisions of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The production and use of methyl bromide was supposed to have been phased out in 2005, but there are protected agricultural uses of the material that are re-authorized every year because there are no effective substitutes.
As is typical for the EPA in this annual exercise, this final rule will not be published until well after the 2013 production and use of methyl bromide has already started. Back in December, recognizing that they would not fulfill their regulatory obligation in time for the spring application of methyl bromide, the EPA published a letter notifying the manufacturers and users of methyl bromide that the EPA would “exercise its enforcement discretion not to pursue enforcement for violations of 40 CFR §82.4 against companies” identified in the NPRM published in December 2012.
Long time readers of this blog will undoubtedly remember (I’ve reminded them enough times) that the DHS chemicals of interest (COI) list for the CFATS program had methyl bromide removed from the proposed list because they believed EPA when it said that methyl bromide was being phased out. This toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemical would normally have been included on the COI list because of its toxic characteristics. This means that three of the four manufacturer/importers of methyl bromide and an indeterminate number of distributors are not required to report their inventories in excess of 10,000 lbs of the material to DHS under the CFATS program.
Once again I would like to suggest that DHS, as part of their on-going review of the COI list in Appendix A to 6 CFR Part 27, actively consider adding methyl bromide back to the list.