Monday, December 28, 2009

Industry Looking to Confab with Advocacy Groups on TSCA Chemical Control Reform

As TSCA reform becomes more and more inevitable, chemical industry trade associations are increasing looking to negotiate with environmental and health advocacy groups. The goal is to seek agreement on key issues prior to the release of the bill that is expected out of Congress in the next few months (or even weeks). Industry's point of view was reiterated in a press conference held on December 16th at the offices of the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

Mike Walls of ACC said that while there is general agreement on the need for TSCA reform and the overall principles, there are still many issues in the details that need to be resolved. And this time leading up to introduction of the bill is when it is important to "engage in stakeholder dialogue." ACC would like to be able to come to agreement on major provisions of the bill before it is introduced.

Environmental groups appear to have a different view. They look to the bill as a starting point for negotiations. Specifically, they expect Senator Frank Lautenberg to introduce some (probably updated) version of the Kid Safe Chemical Act that he has introduced twice in the past (both times the bill never even received debate in committee). The updated bill is expected to shift the onus for proving chemicals safe to the manufacturers, rather than the previous requirement that EPA must prove chemicals to be unsafe. Something that was hard to do since TSCA doesn't require that data needed to make that assessment even be provided to EPA.

So the dance continues. Both industry and advocacy groups have been putting resources into providing information and input to the legislative process, working with staffs of Lautenberg in the Senate and Waxman in the House. It is expected that Congress will hold 2 or 3 hearings before the bill is introduced, which is likely to happen in the first few months of 2010 with some fanfare. Look for window of opportunity in between the health care and climate change debates.

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