USCC Asbestos Part 1 Comments


July 13, 2022


Dear Administrator. Freedhoff:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (“the Chamber”) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA’s” or “Agency’s”) proposed rule on “Asbestos Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use under Section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act.”1 We appreciate that EPA granted the Chamber’s request to extend the comment period by 30 days to give the regulated community more time to evaluate and provide necessary input on this important rulemaking.

The Chamber’s members include companies across all sectors that are impacted by the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”)—chemicals, coatings, refining, petrochemicals, petroleum, forestry, wood products, batteries, electronics, energy, and electricity, among many others. These companies, which manufacture and use chemicals subject to regulation under TSCA, deliver products and innovation that are integral not only to the health and well-being of the American people, but to the domestic economy and supply chain. Chemical technologies improve our quality of life in numerous ways by providing new solutions to problems in health, materials, transportation, agriculture, and energy usage. Protecting the health of workers and surrounding communities is a priority for our members. It is also a priority to ensure the availability of the critical building block chemicals, chlorine and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), produced through the chlor-alkali process, and likewise to avoid disruptive interruptions to the production of energy, fuels, pharmaceuticals, sanitizing agents, and other essential products.

The Chamber and its members urge EPA to consider the economic, legal, and practical issues outlined in our comments. For example, EPA must consider the significant economic and supply chain consequences that banning the critical use of chrysotile asbestos diaphragms used in the chlor-alkali industry would have on the regulated industries, downstream users, and the American public. We oppose EPA’s proposed ban on chrysotile asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry and urge EPA to allow this essential use to continue, or alternatively, grant a critical use exemption under TSCA Section 6(g).

In addition – and likewise of critical importance – EPA should make clear that already installed asbestos-containing sheet gaskets and other gaskets may remain in use until they reach the end of their life cycles and need to be replaced. Requiring the premature removal of such gaskets would likely have a debilitating effect resulting in shortages of fuels, energy, and other essential chemicals.

We recognize the significance of the proposed rule, as it will be the first-ever risk management rule issued under the new process for evaluating and regulating existing chemicals established under the 2016 TSCA amendments. The Chamber supports the goal of implementing TSCA to eliminate unreasonable human health risks, while at the same time preserving the use of essential chemistries and products that are important to the U.S. economy. We encourage EPA to continue to refine important aspects of this precedent-setting rule based on feedback from stakeholders to meet these goals.

USCC Asbestos Part 1 Comments