Friday, September 30, 2011

EPA Publishes 2011 Methyl Bromide Exception Final Rule

Today the Environmental Protection Agency published the final rule in the Federal Register (76 FR 60736-60748) for the critical use exception for the use of methyl bromide. It provides legal authorization for the production, importation or use from the existing pre-phaseout inventory of methyl bromide for 2011. The regulation has an effective date of today, but EPA has been giving a nod-nod-wink-wink unofficial approval for this since January.

The OMB approval for this action was received a week ago. The latest delay in publishing the rule comes from the EPA having to make some last minute changes that were included in the OMB approval. The biggest delay in getting this rule published has been the EPA’s unexplained delay in getting the initial NPRM published in April of this year. This has been an annual exercise since 2005 so there does not appear to be any rational explanation for that delay.

Waiting Action of 2012 Rule

Readers may remember that I reported earlier this month that the OMB had approved the notice of proposed rulemaking for the 2012 exemptions. That NPRM has yet to be published. That OMB approval was also ‘consistent with change’, but I suspect that the changes were probably very similar. After all this is a pretty much cut-and-paste submission and I doubt that OMB was actually making any changes in the actual methyl bromide numbers. In fact the only changes to the numbers in this final rule are based upon comments received on the NPRM about a typographical error in the allocation table.

In any case, any continued delays in the publication of the 2012 NPRM will certainly put the EPA in the position of having to provide users and producers of methyl bromide with ‘unofficial’ authority to proceed with its use in the 2012 season.

Methyl Bromide and CFATS

Once again, all of this once again points out that DHS inappropriately took the EPA at its word that methyl bromide was being phased out when it removed this toxic inhalation hazard chemical from the proposed list of DHS chemicals of interest. Furthermore, the continued exemption process just makes it that more likely that some nut job from the fringe of the eco-activist movement will decide that an attack on a methyl bromide storage facility would be a good way to bring world-wide attention to the continued use of this ‘banned’ chemical.

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