Thursday, June 10, 2010
Needs of Downstream Users Critical to Safe Chemicals Act Developments
"The impact of chemicals on business is felt well beyond the factories where chemicals are manufactured or processed into other substances and mixtures," said Bob Sussman at last week's Business and NGO Forum on Safer Chemicals Policy Reform. Sussman, who is a senior policy counsel to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, went further and noted that "companies at the end of the value chain" have a unique position because they serve "a critical interface where the public comes into contact with chemical-containing products." As such, these downstream users (DUs) must play an active role in helping to define the developing Safe Chemicals Act (or Toxic Substances Safety Act in the House).
The forum was designed to do just that. Sponsors included the NGO Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, the Business-NGO Working Group, and the American Sustainable Business Council. Points of discussion included a widespread agreement on the need for transparency, harmonization with other chemicals programs, and an emphasis on encouraging development of safer alternatives. Unlike some of the chemical trade associations, members of the Business-NGO Working Group strongly support a minimum data set on chemicals to be generated within five years. In short, they want to see data on all chemicals, not just a select few, so that there is enough information on potential alternatives to make sure they aren't just as bad as the ones that are being replaced. That can't be done unless there are data on everything.
According to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, there is an expectation that votes on the House's Toxic Substances Safety Act could begin some time this month. Some even suggest that a floor vote could happen before the summer is up. Still, it seems rather unlikely that any bill will be passed by both the House and Senate this year given the paucity of actual legislation days left and the critical (and often contentious) mid-term elections on every legislators mind.