Congressional lawmakers have called on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “further evaluate the significant adverse economic impact” that could result if a proposed rule is implemented to require that U.S. chemical manufacturers publicly disclose the identities of new chemicals not yet manufactured or available on the market. Although the proposed rule has not been released because it is under OMB review, it would apparently amend the pre-manufacture regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act by allowing disclosure of confidential business information relating to the identity of chemicals used in health and safety studies.
In a May 11, 2012, letter to Cass Sunstein, administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the lawmakers state that the Environmental Protection Agency “already receives the specific chemical identities used in studies and intended to be used in products. We write to strongly urge that these specific chemical identities, which EPA can already use to evaluate the safety of these chemicals and products, not be disclosed publicly due to the substantial negative impact such disclosure could have on the competitiveness of the chemical industry in the United States.”
Signed by Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, and eight other members, most of whom serve on the subcommittee, the letter also noted, “[n]ew chemicals and new uses and mixtures of existing chemicals usually take million of dollars. In the chemical industry, trade secret chemical identities are among the most valuable intellectual property, yet they often cannot be patented.… Structurally-descriptive generic names can provide sufficient information to make studies useful while still protecting trade secret identities.”