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Federal Court Approves Formaldehyde Regulation Agreement Between Sierra Club and EPA - WDMA Intervened in Case to Protect Industry Manufacturers

Posted By Window and Door Manufacturers Association, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

[Washington, DC] - Following the WDMA’s intervention with other affected parties in a court challenge by the Sierra Club to the compliance date for EPA’s Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products (TSCA Title VI), WDMA announced it is satisfied with yesterday’s approval by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s of a joint agreement between the Sierra Club, EPA and industry groups, including WDMA, over changes to the compliance date. The regulations cover composite wood products and finished goods they are used in such as most architectural wood doors and certain windows and other doors manufactured by WDMA members.

The agreement sets a new compliance date of June 1, 2018. Composite wood products manufactured or imported after that date must be in compliance. However, composite wood products and finished goods that are certified in compliance with California’s “CARB Phase 2” by a CARB-approved third-party certifier that is also recognized by EPA, will be considered certified under the federal regulation until March 22, 2019.  The emissions requirements in the CARB Phase 2 regulation are the same as those in the federal regulation (TSCA Title VI). 

“Ensuring that CARB Phase 2 compliance be considered certified under the federal regulation until March of next year was essential to our support of the agreement,” said Jeff Inks, WDMA Senior Vice President of Advocacy. “CARB-compliant products which meet the EPA emissions requirements are already prevalent and extensively used in finished goods, so much of the concern was ensuring adequate time for manufacturers to certify products and finished goods as compliant under EPA’s new certification and labeling requirements.”

This matter originated last fall, when the Sierra Club sued EPA after they extended the compliance date from December 12, 2017 to December 12, 2018. In their suit, the Sierra Club asserted that EPA exceeded its authority in extending the date and pleaded with the court to vacate and set aside the “Formaldehyde Delay Rule.”   On February 16, the court agreed with the Sierra Club and did just that, ruling that “the Delay Rule is beyond the scope of the EPA’s authority and is not in accordance with the Formaldehyde Act." 

The court’s action left the compliance date up in the air, leading to concerns a new compliance date could be too early and result in a significant disruption in the supply chain of composite wood products or render some inventories useless. The court gave the Sierra Club and EPA until March 9, to confer and try reach agreement on a new date. WDMA and a number of other trade organizations impacted joined to intervene in the case to allow for participation in reaching an agreement.

“While we strongly disagreed with the original position of the Sierra Club, this agreement will allow our members to plan accordingly for compliance with the rule with less disruption,” added Inks.

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