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EPA Part 2 Section 204

TITLE 40--PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT
 
CHAPTER I--ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
 
PART 2--PUBLIC INFORMATION--Table of Contents
 
Subpart B--Confidentiality of Business Information
 

Sec. 2.204  Initial action by EPA office.

    (a) Situations requiring action. This section prescribes procedures 
to be used by EPA offices in making initial determinations of whether 
business information is entitled to confidential treatment for reasons 
of business confidentiality. Action shall be taken under this section 
whenever an EPA office:
    (1) Learns that it is responsible for responding to a request under 
5 U.S.C. 552 for the release of business information; in such a case, 
the office shall

[[Page 40]]

issue an initial determination within the period specified in 
Sec. 2.112;
    (2) Desires to determine whether business information in its 
possession is entitled to confidential treatment, even though no request 
for release of the information has been received; or
    (3) Determines that it is likely that EPA eventually will be 
requested to disclose the information at some future date and thus will 
have to determine whether the information is entitled to confidential 
treatment. In such a case this section's procedures should be initiated 
at the earliest practicable time, in order to increase the time 
available for preparation and submission of comments and for issuance of 
determinations, and to make easier the task of meeting response 
deadlines if a request for release of the information is later received 
under 5 U.S.C. 552.
    (b) Previous confidentiality determination. The EPA office shall 
first ascertain whether there has been a previous determination, issued 
by a Federal court or by an EPA legal office acting under this subpart, 
holding that the information in question is entitled to confidential 
treatment for reasons of business confidentiality.
    (1) If such a determination holds that the information is entitled 
to confidential treatment, the EPA Office shall furnish any person whose 
request for the information is pending under 5 U.S.C. 552 an initial 
determination (see Sec. 2.111 and Sec. 2.113) that the information has 
previously been determined to be entitled to confidential treatment, and 
that the request is therefore denied. The office shall furnish such 
person the appropriate case citation or EPA determination. If the EPA 
office believes that a previous determination which was issued by an EPA 
legal office may be improper or no longer valid, the office shall so 
inform the EPA legal office, which shall consider taking action under 
Sec. 2.205(h).
    (2) With respect to all information not known to be covered by such 
a previous determination, the EPA office shall take action under 
paragraph (c) of this section.
    (c) Determining existence of business confidentiality claims. (1) 
Whenever action under this paragraph is required by paragraph (b)(2) of 
this section, the EPA office shall examine the information and the 
office's records to determine which businesses, if any, are affected 
businesses (see Sec. 2.201(d)), and to determine which businesses if 
any, have asserted business confidentiality claims which remain 
applicable to the information. If any business is found to have asserted 
an applicable claim, the office shall take action under paragraph (d) of 
this section with respect to each such claim.
    (2)(i) If the examination conducted under paragraph (c)(1) of this 
section discloses the existence of any business which, although it has 
not asserted a claim, might be expected to assert a claim if it knew EPA 
proposed to disclose the information, the EPA office shall contact a 
responsible official of each such business to learn whether the business 
asserts a claim covering the information. However, no such inquiry need 
be made to any business--
    (A) Which failed to assert a claim covering the information when 
responding to an EPA request or demand, or supplying information on an 
EPA form, which contained the substance of the statements prescribed by 
Sec. 2.203(a);
    (B) Which otherwise failed to assert a claim covering the 
information after being informed by EPA that such failure could result 
in disclosure of the information to the public; or
    (C) Which has otherwise waived or withdrawn a claim covering the 
information.
    (ii) If a request for release of the information under 5 U.S.C. 552 
is pending at the time inquiry is made under this paragraph (c)(2), the 
inquiry shall be made by telephone or equally prompt means, and the 
responsible official contacted shall be informed that any claim the 
business wishes to assert must be brought to the EPA office's attention 
no later than the close of business on the third working day after such 
inquiry.
    (iii) A record shall be kept of the results of any inquiry under 
this paragraph (c)(2). If any business makes a claim covering the 
information, the EPA office shall take further action under paragraph 
(d) of this section.
    (3) If, after the examination under paragraph (c)(1) of this 
section, and after any inquiry made under paragraph (c)(2) of this section,
the EPA office knows of no claim covering the information and the time for 
response to any inquiry has passed, the information shall be treated for 
purposes of this subpart as not entitled to confidential treatment.
    (d) Preliminary determination. Whenever action under this paragraph 
is required by paragraph (c)(1) or (2) of this section on any business's 
claim, the EPA Office shall make a determination with respect to each 
such claim. Each determination shall be made after consideration of the 
provisions of Sec. 2.203, the applicable substantive criteria in 
Sec. 2.208 or elsewhere in this subpart, and any previously-issued 
determinations under this subpart which are applicable.
    (1) If, in connection with any business's claim, the office 
determines that the information may be entitled to confidential 
treatment, the office shall--
    (i) Furnish the notice of opportunity to submit comments prescribed 
by paragraph (e) of this section to each business which is known to have 
asserted an applicable claim and which has not previously been furnished 
such notice with regard to the information in question;
    (ii) Furnish, to any person whose request for release of the 
information is pending under 5 U.S.C. 552, a determination (in 
accordance with Sec. 2.113) that the information may be entitled to 
confidential treatment under this subpart and 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), that 
further inquiry by EPA pursuant to this subpart is required before a 
final determination on the request can be issued, that the person's 
request is therefore initially denied, and that after further inquiry a 
final determination will be issued by an EPA legal office; and
    (iii) Refer the matter to the appropriate EPA legal office, 
furnishing the information required by paragraph (f) of this section 
after the time has elapsed for receipt of comments from the affected 
business.
    (2) If, in connection with all applicable claims, the office 
determines that the information clearly is not entitled to confidential 
treatment, the office shall take the actions required by Sec. 2.205(f). 
However, if a business has previously been furnished notice under 
Sec. 2.205(f) with respect to the same information, no further notice 
need be furnished to that business. A copy of each notice furnished to a 
business under this paragraph (d)(2) and Sec. 2.205(f) shall be 
forwarded promptly to the appropriate EPA legal office.
    (e) Notice to affected businesses; opportunity to comment. (1) 
Whenever required by paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the EPA office 
shall promptly furnish each business a written notice stating that EPA 
is determining under this subpart whether the information is entitled to 
confidential treatment, and affording the business an opportunity to 
comment. The notice shall be furnished by certified mail (return receipt 
requested), by personal delivery, or by other means which allows 
verification of the fact and date of receipt. The notice shall state the 
address of the office to which the business's comments shall be 
addressed (the EPA office furnishing the notice, unless the General 
Counsel has directed otherwise), the time allowed for comments, and the 
method for requesting a time extension under Sec. 2.205(b)(2). The 
notice shall further state that EPA will construe a business's failure 
to furnish timely comments as a waiver of the business's claim.
    (2) If action under this section is occasioned by a request for the 
information under 5 U.S.C. 552, the period for comments shall be 15 
working days after the date of the business's receipt of the written 
notice. In other cases, the EPA office shall establish a reasonable 
period for comments (not less than 15 working days after the business's 
receipt of the written notice). The time period for comments shall be 
considered met if the business's comments are postmarked or hand 
delivered to the office designated in the notice by the date specified. 
In all cases, the notice shall call the business's attention to the 
provisions of Sec. 2.205(b).
    (3) At or about the time the written notice is furnished, the EPA 
office shall orally inform a responsible representative of the business 
(by telephone or otherwise) that the business should expect to receive 
the written notice, and shall request the business to contact the EPA 
office if the written notice has not been received within a few days, 
so that EPA may furnish a duplicate notice.
    (4) The written notice required by paragraph (e)(1) of this section 
shall invite the business's comments on the following points (subject to 
paragraph (e)(5) of this section):
    (i) The portions of the information which are alleged to be entitled 
to confidential treatment;
    (ii) The period of time for which confidential treatment is desired 
by the business (e.g., until a certain date, until the occurrence of a 
specified event, or permanently);
    (iii) The purpose for which the information was furnished to EPA and 
the approximate date of submission, if known;
    (iv) Whether a business confidentiality claim accompanied the 
information when it was received by EPA;
    (v) Measures taken by the business to guard against undesired 
disclosure of the information to others;
    (vi) The extent to which the information has been disclosed to 
others, and the precautions taken in connection therewith;
    (vii) Pertinent confidentiality determinations, if any, by EPA or 
other Federal agencies, and a copy of any such determination, or 
reference to it, if available;
    (viii) Whether the business asserts that disclosure of the 
information would be likely to result in substantial harmful effects on 
the business' competitive position, and if so, what those harmful 
effects would be, why they should be viewed as substantial, and an 
explanation of the causal relationship between disclosure and such 
harmful effects; and
    (ix) Whether the business asserts that the information is 
voluntarily submitted information as defined in Sec. 2.201(i), and if 
so, whether and why disclosure of the information would tend to lessen 
the availability to EPA of similar information in the future.
    (5) To the extent that the EPA office already possesses the relevant 
facts, the notice need not solicit responses to the matters addressed in 
paragraphs (e)(4) (i) through (ix) of this section, although the notice 
shall request confirmation of EPA's understanding of such facts where 
appropriate.
    (6) The notice shall refer to Sec. 2.205(c) and shall include the 
statement prescribed by Sec. 2.203(a).
    (f) Materials to be furnished to EPA legal office. When a matter is 
referred to an EPA legal office under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, 
the EPA office taking action under this section shall forward promptly 
to the EPA legal office the following items:
    (1) A copy of the information in question, or (where the quantity or 
form of the information makes forwarding a copy of the information 
impractical) representative samples, a description of the information, 
or both;
    (2) A description of the circumstances and date of EPA's acquisition 
of the information;
    (3) The name, address, and telephone number of the EPA employee(s) 
most familiar with the information;
    (4) The name, address and telephone number of each business which 
asserts an applicable business confidentiality claim;
    (5) A copy of each applicable claim (or the record of the assertion 
of the claim), and a description of when and how each claim was 
asserted;
    (6) Comments concerning each business's compliance or noncompliance 
with applicable requirements of Sec. 2.203;
    (7) A copy of any request for release of the information pending 
under 5 U.S.C. 552;
    (8) A copy of the business's comments on whether the information is 
entitled to confidential treatment;
    (9) The office's comments concerning the appropriate substantive 
criteria under this subpart, and information the office possesses 
concerning the information's entitlement to confidential treatment; and
    (10) Copies of other correspondence or memoranda which pertain to 
the matter.
[41 FR 36902, Sept. 1, 1976, as amended at 43 FR 40000, Sept. 8, 1978; 
50 FR 51661, Dec. 18, 1985]

 


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