Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held their fifth hearing on ways to improve the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The hearing focused on TSCA sections 4 and 8. Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus in his opening statement said in regards to section 4, “We need to push beyond re-litigating those cases and focus on what authorities EPA has now or could reasonably use in the future to produce tailored, necessary and high quality test data and other information to carry out TSCA.” The hearing also focused on section 8 of TSCA and EPA’s authorities under that section to develop an inventory of chemicals that are manufactured or processed in the United States. 

The witness list for the hearing was as follows: Charles Drevna, President, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; Robert Matthews, McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP, testifying on behalf of the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA); Dr. Brent Grazman, Vice President, Quality Assurance, Viasystems Group, Inc., testifying on behalf of the IPC-Association Connecting Electronics Industries; Dr. Beth Bosley, President Boron Specialties, LLC, testifying on behalf of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA); Dr. Catherine Willet, Director, Regulatory Toxicology, Risk Assessment and Alternatives for the Humane Society of the United States; Dr. Jennifer Sass, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); and Dr. Jerry Paulson, Chairperson, Council on Environmental Health, Department of Federal Affairs, American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Charles Drevna in his testimony said that the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers supports Congress giving EPA authority to prioritize chemicals in commerce so that the agency can identify substances that require further work to make them safer. He also preached the best way to approach TSCA reform was with a tiered, targeted, risk-based approach. Robert Matthews, who testified on behalf of CSPA, said, “In order to ensure that EPA has the information required to make sound, scientific-based decisions on prioritization, CSPA recognizes first, that EPA needs use information, and second, that much of that information is in the hands of downstream processors. “ He also added that reporting under Section 8 of TSCA must allow for companies to maintain confidential business information (CBI) so that both industry and innovation are protected. 

Dr. Bosley, testifying on behalf of SOCMA, also agreed that an improved TSCA should be tiered, targeted and risk-based. She added that currently a major shortcoming of TSCA section 4 is procedural, in that EPA is required to go through a rulemaking process which often contributes to delays in EPA receiving data that they need. Dr. Sass, testified that under the introduced bill, “EPA has no authority whatsoever to get the information” to provide evidence of hazard or exposure for a chemical. She added that EPA is relying on industry voluntarily submitting information. 

During the Q&A portion of the hearing, Chairman Shimkus asked the witnesses if they believed EPA should have information quality standards. The panel all said yes, with the exception of Dr. Paulson who wants the EPA to have more flexibility. Rep. Waxman (D-CA) said during the hearing that he felt that Republicans were moving forward without fully engaging the Democrats to make it a bi-partisan effort. Shimkus concluded the hearing by saying that everyone on the committee recognizes there is a need and a desire for TSCA reform. He also added in regards to moving forward with legislation, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

For more information, visit the Energy and Commerce Committee website.