Yesterday theU.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health held a hearing on "Assessing the Effectiveness of U.S. Chemical Safety Laws." Industry representatives—from SC Johnson, BASF and the American Chemistry Council—united with NRDC’s call for TSCA reform. Over 80,000 chemicals are listed in TSCA’s inventory. Yet only about a quarter of these listed chemicals are actually in commerce, and even a smaller portion are produced in large quantities. Panelists agreed that these significant chemicals should be the focus of a reformed regulatory scheme.
What does reform look like? Unifying themes included a risk-based standard, based on the use of a chemical. This standard would verify that products sold are safe, a component of reform that—as Steve Goldberg, Vice President and Associate General Counsel BASF, put it—would “ensure the confidence of the American public in the products of chemistry”. EPA should be able to receive risk information from industry in an efficient manner, without compromising confidentiality. TSCA reform must “balance regulation with job creation and innovation,” said Cal Dooley, President of the American Chemistry Council. US industries must be able to compete with China and India. And, the US must keep pace with global regulatory developments. However, REACH should not be viewed as the gold standard. It’s still in its infancy, and lessons can be learned from some of its over-bureaucratic components. In the US market, industry faces what Kelly Semrau, Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs, Communication, and Sustainability at SC Johnson, referred to as a “patchwork quilt” of regulation across states. Eighteen states have acted, and 30 are considering taking action. Reforming TSCA would eliminate the need for cities and states to create their own laws in an effort to fill the regulatory void. Panelist had high hopes for bipartisan support of TSCA reform. Given today’s unified message, this common support just may span across the isle in Congress. TSCA reform is certainly a hot issue to watch this year.
For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony, click here.