Sunday, April 18, 2010

Key Areas in Need of Negotiation for new Safe Chemicals Act

Now that the new "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" has been introduced in the Senate (and a largely mirror version in the House, but with a few important differences), the time for negotiations with stakeholders has begun. All stakeholders expressed the usual "we support the goals" statements, but all also indicated where they feel the bill goes too far, or not far enough.

One of the key chemical trade associations, ACC, issued a statement pointing out three areas of disagreement:

- that the proposed decision-making standard may be "legally and technically impossible to meet"
- that the proposed changes to the new chemicals program "could hamper innovation in new products, processes and technologies"
- that the bill "undermines business certainty by allowing states to adopt their own regulations and create a lack of regulatory uniformity for chemicals and the products that use them"

Another trade association, SOCMA, representing many smaller and medium sized companies, was more worried that the scope of the bill was severely "overreaching." They worry that the requirement for a rolling 300 chemical list of priority substances for closer scrutiny is "overly prescriptive." The "minimum data sets" also were cause for concern.

Meanwhile, environmental and health advocacy groups felt the bill didn't go far enough in some respects, though they applaud the bill for finally "getting serious" about reforming TSCA. EDF thinks that one problem area is the fact that some new chemicals will be allowed to enter the marketplace with "inadequate safety data" if they don't immediately trigger one of the higher concern criteria.

I'll take a look at some of these issues in the following days, including what is really meant by the new risk standard of "a reasonable certainty of no harm" and how the "reset of the TSCA Inventory" has seemingly become a "throw out the old TSCA Inventory and start a new one."

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