Tuesday, June 1, 2010

House expects to formally introduce its Toxic Chemicals Safety Act

Way back on April 15th Senator Lautenberg introduced his long-awaited Safe Chemicals Act of 2010. That same day Representatives Waxman and Rush in the House introduced a "discussion draft" of the companion bill, which they called the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010. While not much seems to be happening on the Senate side, a great deal has been going on in the House, and it appears that they will be ready to issue a formal bill very soon.

While they haven't been very public, the House has held a series of "stakeholder meetings" on several important, and sometimes contentious, topics. The meetings were by invitation only in order to find workable paths forward.

The first meeting focused on the minimum data set to be required for new chemicals, as well as EPA’s authority to require testing. The second meeting focused on options for handling new chemicals and new uses of existing chemicals. After that the subject was how to prioritize chemicals for "rapid action," in addition to how best to determine whether a chemical is safe for its intended use.

So will these meetings resolve all the issues and result in a standing ovation by all parties when the bill is formally introduced? Probably not. But it should help work out the details enough to have a solid bill for final debate. And it is likely that the key points resolved in the House version will carry over to the Senate version. Well, at least for the most part.

Not that it will matter much for this session of Congress. There are only 30 or so legislative days left on the calendar, and with a contentious mid-term election coming up in which Republicans are likely to pick up seats in both houses, there is little time or incentive for them to push things through. So it seems that this year is the year to work out the bugs so it can be reintroduced in early 2011.

But then, stranger things have happened.

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