Getting Closer on TSCA Reform

By Tom Branna | June 6, 2013

Who says Congress is broken? Late last month, US Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) announced that they have a groundbreaking, bipartisan agreement to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act. For some of the bill’s specifics, see p. 34 in this issue. Hearings on the bill are expected to get underway this summer.

The announcement of a TSCA compromise is even more impressive considering the toxic atmosphere in Washington these days. Industry leaders note that it took real bipartisanship to get the deal done.

“With Lautenberg’s support, the legislation has credibility from the outset,” said Ernie Rosenberg, president, American Cleaning Institute (ACI). “Republicans were not in a position to push through the legislation (on their own).”

ACI and other industry associations played a key role in convincing Congress to modernize TSCA.

According to the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), the bill will greatly enhance public confidence in chemical safety. It will allow the EPA to get the information it needs to undertake a risk-based review of chemicals in commerce, including information on chemical use and exposure. It maintains a risk-based system; the EPA will look at hazard and exposure in determining chemical safety. It also includes important provisions that CSPA  and other groups worked on related to protecting vital confidential business information that has been submitted to EPA as part of their review, and related to how—and to what extent—processors may be required to report on chemical use and exposure, according to the Association.

Industry is particularly pleased that the bill does not call for EPA to issue safety requirements for the thousands of chemicals impacted by TSCA legislation. Instead, EPA must prioritize thousands of chemicals from low- to high-priority.

Although he cheered the announcement, Rosenberg warned that industry still faces challenges.

“Industry didn’t slip one by; this wasn’t a giveaway to industry,” he insisted. “(TSCA Reform) will be expensive. But now we will have a national market for our products, instead of 50 state markets.”

For more on TSCA and what it means to industry, read about it online at Happi.com.

Tom Branna
Editorial Director