Saturday, January 24, 2009

More Insight on Chemical Control Reform

A week ago I posted Obama Appointments May Affect Chemical Law Reform, which suggested President Obama's appointments might impact Congressional attempts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Insiders suggest that of those names I mentioned, the biggest impact on TSCA reform is likely to be from the switch in chairmanship of the House Environment and Commerce Committee to California Congressman Henry Waxman. As suggested by the name of the TSCA reform bill introduced in 2008 (The Kid Safe Chemical Act), the overall focus for reform legislation is on chemicals in products, with emphasis on questions of safety to children and other vulnerable groups. Members of Waxman's committee have indicated that they likely won't get to TSCA reform until later in the year because the committee also has jurisdiction over health care and climate change, two issues which the Obama Administration have given high priority. But committee staffers are starting to think about it and fully expect to act.

Clearly people on the committee feel that TSCA is a "broken statute" and needs to be rewritten from the ground up. Committee staffers have suggested that if TSCA worked properly then they wouldn't have had to address issues such as phthalates through other legislation like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which passed in 2008. It is also likely that the committee would also want to cover uncertainies with newly emerging activities in nanotechnology. Since Waxman co-authored the Kid Safe Chemicals Act and now chairs the relevant House committee, it is almost a given that a bill will be passed through to the House for vote. The new version to be introduced will likely include additional enforcement responsibilities, similar to what was inserted in the Consumer Product Safety Improvment Act.

I'll keep posting updates on this blog as they become available.

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