Thursday, September 16, 2010

The "New TSCA" and POPs, PBTs, and International Chemical Treaties

This summer the House introduced a formal TSCA reform bill, following up on the "discussion draft" issued in April when the Senate introduced their version of TSCA reform.  One measure that didn't get a whole lot of press (but about which I tweeted) was how the bills dealt with the big international chemical treaties to which the US had never ratified.  Those treaties are the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention, and the LRTAP POPs protocols.  All deal with a small list of specific chemicals that exhibit persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic characteristics, i.e., PBT.  The variation, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) have similar criteria, and then there are those chemicals that are Very Persistent and Very Bioaccumulative (vPvB), which may pose future concerns whether or not they currently meet the toxicity criterion.

The House discussion draft was pretty fuzzy as to how the new TSCA would help the US ratify the agreements, but the formal H.R. 5820 directs EPA to implement "provisions of international agreements" that are "related to chemical substances and mixtures" to which the United States becomes a party.  In fact, the House bill now looks much like that suggested back in May by CIEL, the Center for International Environmental Law.  The bill also mirrors the CIEL analysis by including a provision to regulate a newly listed chemical beyond what the treaties themselves allow.  And if the US fails to ratify the three treaties, the House bill would go ahead and ban the five chemicals listed as POPs anyway.  A bit of a nudge to get the treaties ratified.

Of course, whether these provisions survive next year's iteration of the bills is always a question.

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