Over the past several years, Congress has wrestled with chemical safety and possible ways to modernize TSCA. Chemical business leaders, public officials, scientists, doctors, academics, and liberal environmental organizations have expressed support for varied methods of reforms to this principal toxic substance law.
Recently, a U.S. Senate committee advanced yet another bill that would revise the decades-old regulation for chemicals. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted 10-8 (along party lines) to move S. 847, the so-called Safe Chemicals Act, to the Senate floor.
The bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to establish new minimum data sets for chemical substances; identify required testing of any chemical substances; create various hurdles for a manufacturer before making any new chemical substance; update a list of chemical substances warranting placement within one of three priority classes regarding risk management; and, importantly, requires substance manufacturers and processors to bear the burden of proving that chemical substances meet applicable safety standards. The bill would also establish an Internet-accessible, public database of information on the toxicity of, use of, and exposure to chemical substances. The bill would also drastically narrow the conditions under which data about chemical substances may be treated as confidential business information.
The chemical Industry remains committed to working with the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works to pursue reform of TSCA, but views this as a partisan markup of a bill that is inconsistent with balanced reform. Specifically, the bill would establish an unworkable safety standard, and would require an enormous amount of additional government resources to implement. The bill would also dramatically increase the time it would take for EPA to review new chemicals and undermine long-standing protections of trade secrets, seriously hampering innovations in new products and technologies.