Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NGO Reaction to the House Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010

Last week I gave some initial industry reactions to the formal introduction of the House version of the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, i.e., the TSCA reform bill.  I've missed a few days but today will jump back in with some of the key NGO reactions.

Testifying at the hearing on July 29th was Richard Denison, lead toxicologist at the Environmental Defense Fund.  Dr. Denison spoke on behalf of both EDF and the EDF-led Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition. Not surprisingly Denison was very supportive of the bill, at least the promise of the bill, and emphasized that it was critical that the bill move forward in this Congress.  That seems unlikely given that the actual legislative days left in session before the election are few.  Also, while he was supportive of the bill and appreciative of industry's claims of support, he posted in a rather incredulous sounding blog on the EDF site questioning "should we continue to take the chemical industry at its word when it insists it's still for TSCA reform."

Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook was another witness at the hearing, and he too was very supportive of the bill.  He "called on Congress...to pass tough new legislation to repair a “broken toxic chemicals policy” that is currently so weak “the American public has lost confidence that the products they are using, the chemicals they are being exposed to, are safe.”"  However, Cook also took exception in his blog post with what he saw as less then credible support by industry.  He also felt that in the opening comments were largely to "set the contrary theme voiced by a number of Republicans, scoring the bill with words including “cumbersome,” “unworkable,” “ineffective,” and “overly broad.”  The word "jobs" (as in, chemical reform would hurt jobs) was also a common term used by Republicans and also by several Democrats (e.g., Rep. Dingell of the hard hit state of Michigan).

Dr Mark Mitchell, President of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice also voiced support for the bill.  Mitchell was most emphatic that any new chemical standards must be stringent enough to protect the public and vulnerable populations, and felt that a “reasonable certainty of no harm” would accomplish this goal.  He also noted that “in its current state," the bill "will go far in addressing environmental justice issues with chemical policy.”

With the August recess about to start, we'll see what happens between now and the end of the year on this and the Senate bill.  More than likely they will have to be reintroduced next year.

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