Good governance: evolution of the nanoscale materials stewardship program

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Governance issues are seldom the subject of wide consensus, and the question of how best the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) should obtain needed information and data on the human health and environmental implications of nanoscale materials is no exception. EPA has considered the issue carefully and believes, with good reason, that a voluntary approach makes the most sense at this time. Not everyone agrees, however, and some urge EPA to exercise its statutory authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to mandate the submission of information and data, and to do so quickly. This article discusses the origins and current status of EPA’s voluntary Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (“NMSP”), outlines the key issues EPA confronted in developing the Program, and discusses the reasons why it is critically important for nanotechnology stakeholders to participate in the Program early and robustly. While stakeholders may not agree on what is the best way for EPA to obtain information on nanoscale materials, there is broad consensus that NMSP participation is critically important to maintain the public trust and confidence in this emerging technology, to provide EPA with needed information and data, and to demonstrate that potentially more burdensome rulemaking initiatives are not needed to achieve these goals.

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