Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on the Safe Chemicals Act.” The hearing examined Sen. Lautenberg’s(D-NJ) legislation S. 847, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. The legislation would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act(TSCA) of 1976, which we have discussed here.
The committee received testimony from Ted Sturdevant, Director of the Department of Ecology for the State of Washington; Charlotte Brody, Director of Chemicals, Public Health and Green Chemistry for the BlueGreen Alliance; Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council; Robert Matthews, Counsel at McKenna Long & Aldridge; and Dr. Richard Denison, Senior Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund. Testimony for each of them can be found here.
Cal Dooley testified that while the American Chemistry Council and industry support TSCA reform, Sen. Lautenberg’s legislation has four fundamental flaws. The first being the safety standard, which Dooley testified would be near impossible to meet, and if EPA was required to consider aggregate exposure of a chemical that “regulatory paralysis would ensue.” The other three areas that have fundamental flaws in the legislation according to Dooley are: new chemicals, minimum data set, and prioritization.
While Dooley and the ACC agree with reform but not legislation, others that testified support the legislation, including Dr. Denison from the Environmental Defense Fund. Dr. Denison testified saying that S. 847, “provides the framework for a comprehensive, systematic solution to a set of problems that until now have only been addressed -- if at all -- through reactive, piecemeal actions.”
When the hearing moved to the Q&A session, some of the Democrats on the committee grilled Dooley for being too harsh on the legislation without providing alternate language throughout the process. This point became contentious as Dooley said the ACC has provided their concerns and alternatives but their ideas had been shot down by certain members of the committee.
Sen. Lautenberg hopes that the bill will receive a scheduled markup in December, but nothing has been confirmed yet. If it does proceed to markup, the bill would most likely pass through committee but could very well do so in a partisan vote unless some of the concerns on the legislation are addressed.