The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – after an extended delay — has published its final rule to regulate formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products in the December 12, 2016 edition of the Federal Register (see, copy attached). The publication of this final rule (previously released by EPA on a pre-publication basis in July 2016), represents the culmination of a multi-year rulemaking process triggered by the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010. That law directed EPA to establish federal formaldehyde standards for specific composite wood products (i.e., hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard and particleboard) that are identical to standards already adopted and enforced by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), together with appropriate enforcement mechanisms.
Significantly, the same law requires HUD to revise its own manufactured housing formaldehyde standards (i.e., 24 C.F.R. 3280.308 and 309) to “reflect” the final EPA standards “not later than 180 days after the date of promulgation” of the EPA standards.
Consistent with this statutory mandate, HUD – at the October 2016 meeting of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) — presented a “draft” proposed rule to modify the existing HUD formaldehyde standards. That “draft,” consistent with MHARR’s September 2013 comments to EPA, would delete the red formaldehyde “health notice” currently required by 24 C.F.R. 3280.309. At the same time, the draft HUD proposal, as presented to the MHCC (see, November 1, 2016 MHARR Washington Update – “October 2016 MHCC Meeting – Exclusive Report and Analysis”), would simply cite the impending EPA standards for formaldehyde emission levels and the certification of incorporated composite wood products, while requiring a conforming “finished good certification” for each home, with a brief script indicating compliance with the EPA standards. The MHCC, as previously reported by MHARR, voted to accept this proposed draft with certain additional recommendations.
Upon the completion of the MHCC letter ballot on this matter, HUD is expected to publish a proposed rule. MHARR will then file written comments in the HUD rulemaking docket, objecting to the imposition of EPA record-retention and labeling requirements on HUD Code manufacturers, when site-builders are exempted from those same requirements of the EPA rule with no valid, legitimate or plausible basis.
MHARR will continue to keep you updated on this matter as developments warrant. It is noteworthy, per news media reports, that the EPA final rule could come under scrutiny – and potentially be subject to rejection by Congress and the incoming Trump Administration — under the Congressional Review Act.