Yesterday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) announced that it had approved the EPA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for the 2014 Critical Use Exemptions to the phase out of the use of methyl bromide under the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of Atmospheric Ozone. This annual rule making exercise is proceeding slower and slower; this approval comes one month later than did the 2013 OMB approval.
The OIRA notice states that the NPRM was approved ‘consistent with change’. Presumably this means that they are requiring EPA to make some relatively minor changes to the draft NPRM that had been submitted for approval. This means that we probably won’t see publication of the NPRM until the first week in February.
As I noted last May when EPA submitted the final rule for the 2013 Critical Use Exemption, because of this delayed rulemaking process EPA must provide extralegal assurances that it will not take actions against producers, dealers and users of methyl bromide for the production, importation or use of methyl bromide this year while the rulemaking process proceeds.
According to the 2014 CUE web page, the NPRM should be authorizing the use of methyl bromide for the following uses; Commodities (740 kg), Food Facilities (22,800 kg), Ham (3,730 kg), and Strawberries (415,067 kg). No mention is made of the various emergency use approvals that EPA and the Department of Agriculture (eg: Cotton Seed and Blueberries) have approved since the 2014 CUE list was submitted to the UN for approval in January of 212.
Standard Rant Warning
As always, I will take this opportunity again to argue that the removal of methyl bromide, a toxic inhalation hazard chemical, from the final Appendix A, 6 CFR Part 27 list of DHS chemical of interest because methyl bromide use was being phased out was ill-advised and contrary to the congressional intent to have DHS regulate dangerous chemicals that could be used by terrorists in a weapons of mass destruction attack within the United States. Methyl bromide should be added back to the COI list post-haste.