On July 25, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed legislation that would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enhanced authority to manage chemicals, and increasing chemical manufacturer and processor obligations to provide EPA with toxicity and use information.
Senate Bill 847, The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, was introduced in April 2011 by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and aims to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a 35-year old statute that has served to regulate the chemical industry into the modern era.
The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 would require chemical manufacturers to ensure that chemicals meet a new risk-based safety standard and disclose more and detailed health and environmental information. ACA has numerous concerns about the current version of the legislation, which would expand U.S. EPA’s authority to require manufacturers and importers to provide data to be used in establishing arbitrary restrictions on existing uses of chemicals that may not conform to the new safety standard.
Prior to the bill hearing and markup, four Republican senators on the committee — Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) — sent Sen. Lautenberg a letter noting the lack of real bipartisan collaboration in moving forward with the amendments and markup. The most recent round of negotiations on the Safe Chemicals Act among Republican and Democratic staff began in mid-June, and the letter noted thatthe bi-partisan process was supposed to include starting over with a brand new bill that had greater bipartisan support. However, the committee accelerated action on the bill over Republican dissent, including amendments that don’t do much to make it more reasonable for industry.
Of note, there is no companion bill in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
ACA believes that stakeholder involvement in the modernization of TSCA is imperative. Throughout the discussion on TSCA modernization, ACA has employed an outreach campaign on the scope and application of such reform. ACA believes that a legislative approach for chemicals management must ensure appropriate action on the part of the regulatory agency and the regulated community, and, in particular, be based on sound science and protective of health and the environment.
ACA remains active in the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI), a coalition of almost 100 industry associations interested in TSCA modernization. ACA and AAI will continue to remain engaged in the dialogue on TSCA modernization, including the need for federal preemption in the next version of TSCA.