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EPA Proposes Critical Use Exemption of Methyl Bromide;

Release Date: 08/12/2004
Contact Information: Cynthia Bergman, (202) 564-9828 / bergman.cynthia@epa.gov

(08/12/04) The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule to amend existing regulations that call for the phaseout of methyl bromide (MeBr) by January 1, 2005. The Agency’s action seeks to create a critical use exemption for MeBr. The exemptions for continued production and import of methyl bromide would continue to honor the U.S. commitment to obtain for American farmers the methyl bromide they need, in a manner consistent with the Montreal Protocol, while protecting the ozone layer. The critical use exemptions proposed by EPA were developed through collaboration between EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agricultural economists and many other technical experts. EPA conducted six stakeholder sessions during the summer of 2003 (see http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr for transcripts) to discuss the variety of options for the allocation system. EPA will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register and will accept comments on the proposed rule during a 30-day comment period. Critical use exemptions are anticipated under the Montreal Protocol for circumstances where there are no technically and economically feasible alternatives to methyl bromide. The critical use exemptions are from 2005 phaseout of methyl bromide and subject to countries obtaining authorization from the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The U.S. is one of 11 countries that have been given critical use exemptions. The 187 countries that signed the Montreal Protocol authorized a total of 8,942 metric tons of methyl bromide for the United States for critical uses in 2005. The signatory countries also established an upper limit on the amount of methyl bromide that can come from new production and import for critical use exemptions in 2005. The parties authorized 35 percent of baseline as the maximum amount of methyl bromide available for the critical uses in 2005. A portion of this amount will be coming from inventory, and the rest from methyl bromide newly produced or imported during 2005. The agreement directs each country to take into account the amount of methyl bromide in inventory that is available for critical uses before licensing new production and import for the critical use exemption. The proposed rule describes the decisions and proposes a method for determining how much of the existing U.S. inventory of methyl bromide is available for critical uses. To update information on methyl bromide inventories being held for sale to other entities, the Agency is publishing concurrently with the NPRM a notice under authority Section 114 of the Clean Air Act. Section 114 of the Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to compel entities to provide information to implement programs under the Act, in this specific case, the critical use exemption program. EPA, USDA and other government agencies have made significant efforts to encourage production of alternatives to MeBr. USDA has invested more than $150 million in MeBr alternative research, and EPA has registered new alternatives for specific crops and food sanitary uses. EPA also has adopted a comprehensive approach to evaluating the currently registered and pending soil fumigants, including giving priority to register promising new alternatives For more information on the proposed rule, visit the website: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr