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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Modernizing TSCA

By Chemical Engineering |

Last month, the U.S. Congress passed the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This bill, called “historic” by many, brings very significant changes to the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This much-needed modernization of TSCA is supported by the chemical process industries (CPI), as well as by environmental and health organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund (www.edf.org), the Humane Society of the U.S. (www.humanesociety.org), the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org) and others. The bipartisan bill, initiated by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Senator David Vitter (R-La.) in 2013, has undergone three years of negotiations and revisions, and is, at the time of this writing, now awaiting the expected final approval of the U.S. President to become law.

 

Reactions by the CPI

Upon passage of the bill, American Chemistry Council (ACC; www.americanchemistry.com) president and CEO Cal Dooley stated “Today’s passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is truly historic. This legislation is significant not only because it is the first major environmental law passed since 1990, but because TSCA reform will have lasting and meaningful benefits for all American manufacturers, all American families and for our nation’s standing as the world’s leading innovator.”

William Allmond, vice president of Government and Public Relations for the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA; www.socma.com) said, “Last night’s historic vote is a significant ending and beginning. It ends many years of elusive bipartisan compromise to reform our nation’s chemical control law and begins the process of regaining the public’s confidence in everyday products made possible by our industry. SOCMA is eager to work with EPA and all stakeholders to ensure that the regulatory process reflects Congress’ intent.”

And The Dow Chemical Company’s (www.dow.com) chairman and CEO, Andrew Liveris, commented, “This landmark legislation will fundamentally reform our nation’s chemical regulatory program, restore confidence in the safety of chemicals and provide companies like Dow with the regulatory certainty necessary to drive investment.”

 

What it means

Overall, the new legislation will empower the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; www.epa.gov), and also give it more responsibility, for chemical regulation. Some of the main elements of the bill are the following*: All commercial chemicals are subject to an EPA review; EPA is required to focus on high priority chemicals, based on a risk-based prioritization process; Extensive risk evaluations are required on chemicals found to be high priority in a health-based risk evaluation; The quality of science used in EPA decisions must be transparent; EPA’s ability to require additional health and safety testing is expanded; EPA is provided with a full range of regulatory options to address chemical risks; EPA is required to meet strict deadlines; Substantiated confidential business information is protected.

While the hurdles of getting long-awaited TSCA reform have been overcome, the hard work of implementing the modernized bill will now begin, and will require the earnest cooperation of all parties.■

Dorothy Lozowski, Editor in Chief

 *Source: U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act” (www.epw.senate.gov/public)

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