WASHINGTON - Federal formaldehyde emissions regulations proposed by the EPA are being criticized by a number of wood industry groups for their inclusion of laminated products and the ban on adhesives containing urea formaldehyde.
Calling the proposed regulations a "jobs killer," the groups say EPA's proposed emissions regulations ignore the directive by Congress and instead go beyond the scope of the formaldehyde rules set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Formaldehyde emissions regulations impact producers of panels and products made from particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and hardwood plywood, including cabinetry, furniture and casegoods. Also affected are sellers of these products.
Comments challenging the EPA's proposed rule "Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products," have been filed by the Federal Wood Industries Coalition (FWIC) and its members, which include: the Composite Panel Association (CPA), the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA), the American Chemistry Council, the American Home Furnishings Alliance, APA – The Engineered Wood Association, Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers, Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, European Panel Federation, International Wood Products Association (IWPA), Moulding & Millwork Producers Association, National Association of Music Merchants, National Retail Federation, and National Wood Flooring Association.
“EPA’s proposals will be a jobs killer for American manufacturing due to the agency’s departure from what was intended by Congress, and that must change,” Tom Julia, CPA president, said in a statement. “The proposed regulations would impose costly, unnecessary burdens to finished products manufacturers that could shutdown domestic production across several industries.”
Julia added, “We applaud EPA’s consultations with industry over the past three years and its stated desire to synchronize the national standard with California’s ATCM. This makes it especially surprising that EPA has moved in an alarming direction on a number of key provisions.”
The KCMA agreed, saying in a statement that it did not expect EPA's inclusion of laminated products in the broad definition of hardwood plywood and that the proposed regulation "departs dramatically from the performance-based approach adopted by CARB" which distinguished between panel producers and fabricators. The group also expressed concern over the impact this would have on thousands of small businesses, including wood components and cabinetmakers.
“The single most costly and burdensome aspect of EPA's proposed rule is the Agency’s decision to disregard CARB, KCMA and others on the treatment of 'laminated products.' Instead of following the ATCM as intended by Congress, EPA dramatically expanded the requirements. This represents the single most significant variation from the approach taken by the current California rule,” KCMA Executive Vice President Dick Titus said in a statement.
KCMA President Paul Sova, Showplace Wood Products, added: "Any fabricator who does any veneering should have great concern with the proposed composite wood formaldehyde regulations, as well as anyone making veneered HWPW components supplied to cabinet, furniture and other wood products companies. This important and specialized part of our supply chain would be regulated the same as large plywood panel manufacturers which is both overly severe and unnecessary. Even those using non-formaldehyde adhesives would have to test and meet other administrative requirements in order to comply. In today’s economy, many would be unable to support this costly burden to essentially prove the negative. This is not how a rational regulatory system works."
Adding that the EPA's rule is "arbitrary and contrary to the intent of the law," Jackson Morrill, director of ACC's Formaldehyde Panel stated, "Congressional intent was to set an emissions control measure equivalent to compliance with the CARB ATCM standard. EPA has exceeded Congressional intent by proposing a regulation that is not technology-based and that differs significantly from the CARB ATCM."
IWPA also said it was concerned by many items in the proposed EPA formaldehyde regulation including "the lack of a de minimis exemption, the overly broad scope, the time frame for implementation, and the confidential business information that would be disclosed to the public."
"U.S. companies depend on composite wood products, and this proposed regulation if enacted as-is would drastically impact a host of businesses and consumers alike. IWPA is particularly concerned by the lack of protection for confidential business information in the regulation, a concern shared by many other members of the Federal Wood Industry Coalition" said Cindy Squires, executive director of IWPA.
There are two parts to EPA's formaldehyde rule: "Third-Party Certification Framework for the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products" (TPC rule) and "Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products" (the implementation rule). Other changes that the FWIC has said it would like to see for the federal formaldehyde regulation include: a strengthening of third-party certifier requirements; the inclusion of a de minimis exemption; the replacement of EPA’s proposal for non-complying lots with a 72-hour notice provision; and the protection of confidential business information.
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