For plastic container barrier maker Inhance Technologies LLC, its upcoming Feb. 5 federal appeals court hearing challenging the Environmental Protection Agency is part of existential fight that, in its words, could close its 11 factories and "force the company into bankruptcy" if it goes badly.
For the EPA, the case is about protecting the public from PFAS toxins created from Inhance's manufacturing process, which puts fluorinated barrier coatings on 200 million high density polyethylene containers each year.
Both sides have been briefing the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in recent weeks ahead of the Feb. 5 hearing.
The court agreed to hear the case on expedited basis after Houston-based Inhance challenged two Dec. 1 EPA orders telling it to stop using the fluorination process.
Inhance told the judges in its 74-page brief the EPA orders will shut down the company, and it accused the agency of using an "extreme" and overly broad interpretation of toxic chemical laws.
"The consequences of that interpretation are calamitous," Inhance said. "The unilateral orders will close 11 Inhance facilities, cost hundreds of employees ... their jobs and force the company into bankruptcy."
As well, a group of industry trade associations intervened on Inhance's side, telling the court the case has "immediate practical consequences" for industries making products that rely on fluorination.
That group, including the American Chemistry Council and associations for makers of cleaning products, power equipment and pesticides, called EPA's interpretation of the Toxic Substances Control Act a "sweeping and unwarranted assertion of regulatory authority" that the court should clip.