The House Environment and Economy Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled “Regulation of New Chemicals, Protection of Confidential Business Information, and Innovation.” The committee has been doing its due diligence in regards to Toxic Chemical Substance Act (TSCA) reform by holding hearings to determine the best path to take moving forward. The witness list consisted of members of industry, academia, and an environmental group.

The witness list is as follows: Craig Morrison, CEO of Momentive Performance Materials Holding, LLC who testified on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC); Len Sauers, Vice President of Global Sustainability for Procter and Gamble; David Isaacs, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Semiconductor Industry Association; Dr. Rainer Lohmann, Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island; and Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group.

In his opening statement, subcommittee Vice Chairman Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) said “I believe evaluating TSCA sections 5 (new chemicals) and 14 (disclosure of data) is fundamental to judging progress in new technologies and manufacturing frontiers in our country.” He went onto say TSCA Section 5 does “not merely set out the notification requirements for these chemicals; it provides EPA an opportunity to review and evaluate information about a chemical to determine if its manufacture, processing, commercial use, or disposal should be limited, delayed, or prohibited.” Ranking member Rep. Tonko (D-NY) in his opening statement expressed concern about the potential overuse of confidential business information (CBI) claims.

The three industry witnesses, Mr. Morrison, Mr. Sauers, and Mr. Isaacs believe that in general Section 5 and 14 of current TSCA law provide an effective and balanced way to make sure chemicals are brought into commerce safely, while protecting industry and promoting chemical innovation. While, Ms. White and Dr. Lohmann believe these sections don’t do nearly enough to protect human health and the environment. Ms. White referred to CBI as a regulatory black hole and said she believes industrial chemical pollution begins in the womb.

During the Q&A portion of the hearing, the three industry witnesses emphasized that innovation is their lifeline to success. Morrison was questioned regarding whether his company tests for toxicity before their products hit the market and he assured the subcommittee that they did, adding that it would not be economically viable to put a chemical into the market place without doing so.

The EU’s REACH program was brought up as a comparison to TSCA and potential TSCA reform. Dr. Lohmann made sure to point out that as part of REACH manufacturers have to prove the safety of each chemical and its use before it hits the market. While Morrison stated his opinion of REACH is that it is excessively bureaucratic.