After years of anticipation, lead is back on the U.S. regulatory agenda

Agenda for
21-23 June

Susan Bernard
Director of Regulatory Technical Affairs, Battery Council International, United States
In the United States, the most important regulatory developments recently have been the re-emergence of significant federal rulemaking activity at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and also in California. Due to both statutorily mandated reviews and agency notices, these rulemakings have been anticipated by BCI for many years – some for more than a decade – and agency action has finally commenced.

Over the past year, the US EPA finalized its update for the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) rules for battery manufacturers and continues its work to update the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for lead. Federal OSHA last year initiated its rulemaking process for the nationwide occupational lead rules, and this spring California formally proposed its updated OSH rules after nearly 14 years of development. The FedOSHA and CalOSHA lead standards set the limits for blood lead levels in workers and define medical removal and return to work protocols, among others.

These rules (NAAQS, FedOSHA) will be the U.S. lead industry’s priority environmental, safety, and health (EHS) matters for engagement with the federal government on lead regulation for the next three to eight years. The Cal/OSHA rulemaking is anticipated to take approximately one year and will be the third priority matter for at least that period. The final lead rule in California will undoubtedly inform FedOSHA as it re-writes its lead standards.

Most recently, there is critical activity from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that may dramatically affect certain segments of the lead battery industry. DOE in April published its proposed rule for efficiency standards for battery chargers that could potentially lead to the effective ban of most current consumer lead battery charging systems.

The Biden administration has also continued its work on the Federal “Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities” (previously referred to as the Lead Action Plan) and other less certain threats remain in play – namely new Superfund Excise Taxes, Superfund soil cleanup values, a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) review of lead, and EPA threats to separator manufacturing use of trichloroethylene (TCE).

Needless to say, there is a lot going on within the regulatory landscape in the United States as it relates to lead and lead-containing products. During the presentation, I will provide additional information and insight to how BCI and its affiliates are responding to these rulemakings.


Susan Bernard joined Battery Council International (BCI) in August 2022 as Director of Regulatory & Technical Affairs where she advocates for industry on federal and state-level legislation and regulatory matters affecting industry and oversees BCI’s technical program. Prior to joining BCI, Susan built her career as an analyst at Wiley Rein LLP, where she provided expertise on regulatory and legislative matters to BCI and other clients regarding the manufacturing, disposal, and transportation of lead and lithium batteries and other electronic wastes.

Susan also serves as the Director of the Women in the Global Battery Industry (WGBI), a battery-chemistry agnostic group open to professionals in the battery industry with a mission to bring women in similar industries together to derive benefit for themselves and their companies through relationship building, education, and shared knowledge.