WASHINGTON - A ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White vacates the Formaldehyde Rule extension dates and puts in limbo manufacturers of composite panels and products, including cabinetry, furniture and retail fixtures. A temporary stay on the vacate order has been granted and parties have until 4 p.m. on March 9 to confer on an alternative compliance date, and submit either a joint proposed submission or simultaneous briefs.
In his Feb. 16 ruling on the case of the Sierra Club and A Community Voice-Louisiana v. Scott Pruitt in his official capacity as Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Judge White vacated the rule that had extended the TSCA Title VI compliance date to Dec. 12, 2018, agreeing with the plaintiff that the "Delay Rule is beyond the scope of the EPA’s authority and is not in accordance with the Formaldehyde Act."
Filed Oct. 31, 2017, the lawsuit claimed EPA acted "arbitrarily, capriciously" and without authority when it granted panel producers a one-year extension for compliance to TSCA Title VI, also known as the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products. The original compliance date was Dec. 12, 2017.
In his opinion, the judge agreed with the plaintiffs that Congress intended for the emissions limits to go into effect 180 days after issuance of the TSCA Title VI regulations. The judge also rejected the EPA’s waiver argument that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies by not commenting on the proposed extension to the compliance deadline, noting "the Court finds the record replete with comments from other stakeholders who objected to the further extension of the compliance deadlines."
The Composite Panel Association is among the industry groups which filed an amicus brief. The CPA said it has conveyed its concerns regarding to the timing of the compliance date to the Justice Department, and will continue to track the process closely.