Welcome to issue 1 of Industrials Regulatory News and Trends. In this regular bulletin, DLA Piper lawyers provide concise updates on key developments in the industrials sector to help you navigate the ever-changing business, legal and regulatory landscape.
- FCC moves to encourage manufacturing in space. The Federal Communications Commission announced on August 5 that it will begin to revise some of its old rules on how to deal with “space junk” and on other issues such as satellite refueling and inspecting and repairing in-orbit spacecraft. The FCC is trying to encourage the manufacture of items in space, a process known as in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (ISAM). Jessica Rosenworcel, the agency’s chairwoman, said it’s important now to look at ideas such as “repairing and refueling satellites and even assembling whole new systems in orbit.” This could provide manufacturers with new markets and new possibilities for building products in space. The FCC said that ISAM has "the potential to build entire industries, create new jobs, mitigate climate change, and advance America’s economic, scientific, technological, and national security interests." Please also see our alert UK unveils Plan for Space Sustainability: Top points.
- President Biden signs into law a bill to provide major boost to US semiconductor makers. On August 2, President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS Act, a measure that will invest billions of dollars in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and science research, with the aim of boosting US competitiveness with China and other foreign rivals. The act includes more than $52 billion for US companies producing computer chips, as well as billions more in tax credits to encourage investment in chip manufacturing. It also provides tens of billions of dollars to fund scientific research and development and to spur the innovation and development of other US technologies. Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “This legislation is a bold, important step toward ramping up the domestic manufacturing of essential inputs used by virtually every part of our industry.”
- Senate passes two recycling bills. On July 28, the US Senate unanimously passed both the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022 and the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act. Both bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. The first bill would require the EPA to establish a pilot grant program for improving recycling accessibility in communities. The EPA would be able to award grants to states, local governments, Indian tribes, and public-private partnerships if the bill becomes law. The second bill establishes data collection and reporting requirements for recycling and composting programs, including a mandatory EPA report on the possibility of implementing a national composting strategy to reduce contamination rates for recycling. Darrell Smith, CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association, urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill, which “will advance America’s domestic recycling infrastructure and capabilities.”
- Plastics industry criticizes GSA proposal on single-use plastics. The Plastics Industry Association has criticized a proposed regulation from the federal General Services Administration to limit or ban the use of single-use plastics in the federal sphere. The group said that the move by the GSA, which manages federal property and serves as the government’s purchasing authority, “could significantly impact, for the worse, federal operations by pushing government to choose less environmentally responsible options that are also more expensive and less effective in their applications, all while failing to support robust end-of-life disposal mechanisms for products.” It said that switching on a large scale to plastics alternatives such as glass, paper and aluminum would have a greater negative effect on the environment. The GSA is seeking public comments on its July 6 proposal in a comment period that will end on September 6. Also see our alert California's new Extended Producer Responsibility Act is major addition to suite of plastic-focused laws.
- Chemistry group challenges EPA levels for PFOA and PFOS. On July 30, the American Chemistry Council filed a petition in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging the revised Lifetime Health Advisories (LHAs) recently issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for PFOA and PFOS. These two chemicals are members of a chemical group called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been detected in drinking water. The council issued a statement saying that it “supports the development of drinking water standards for PFAS based on the best available science. However, EPA’s revised LHAs for PFOA and PFOS reflect a failure of the Agency to follow its accepted practice for ensuring the scientific integrity of its process.” The council said the new EPA advisories affect levels of these chemicals that are 3,000 to 17,000 times lower than those released by the Obama Administration in 2016. These new levels, the council said, are below levels that can be reliably detected using existing EPA methods.
- Criticism of EPA’s risk assessments on toxic chemicals. On August 4, the American Chemistry Council wrote a blog post questioning the EPA’s recently released draft revised risk determinations for five of the first 10 chemicals currently undergoing risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The council stated two grounds for its objections. It wrote that the EPA, in its draft revised risk determinations, “continues to avoid making risk determinations for chemical substances based on their individual conditions of use (COUs)” and instead makes risk determinations based on the chemical as a whole. In addition, the council said, the draft risk determinations reflect the EPA’s continuing assumption that personal protective equipment is not always used in the workplace, which should not be the basis for determinations of no unreasonable risk.
- Sourcing requirement for EVs may pose problem for manufacturers, says trade association. An organization representing major auto manufacturers said August 5 that the Inflation Reduction Act, a massive bill aiming to address climate change and inflation approved by the US Senate on Sunday August 7 and expected to pass the House today, would jeopardize the adoption of US electric-vehicle targets. “Unfortunately, the EV tax credit requirements [in the bill] will make most vehicles immediately ineligible for the incentive,” said the Alliance for Automotive Innovation's chief executive, John Bozzella, adding the bill “will also jeopardize our collective target of 40-50% electric vehicle sales by 2030.” That is because the incentives in the bill only apply to vehicles that are assembled in North America and because the incentives also will not apply after 2023 to vehicles that use batteries sourced from China.