Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting for TSCA Chemical Reform? Keep Waiting

Readers of this site will know that I have talked a lot about the efforts to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Bills were introduced in 2010 by both the House and Senate, and many hearings and stakeholder meetings were held.  But what seemed to be a clear path to passing an update to the 35 year old law now seems to be a distant memory.  The likelihood of legislation being introduced, never mind passed, in the current Congress is pretty much zero.

This is the sense suggested by several recent events.  The industry still notes their general concurrence that a federal level program update is needed, the actual follow through seems unlikely any time soon.  One reason is because industry feels that the bills introduced by Democrats Lautenberg in the Senate and Waxman/Rush in the House were completely unworkable.  So much so that to try to modify them would be an impossible task.

While it would seem a good time to get more industry-friendly legislation enacted during the current Congress, there is a sense that the next Congress will be even more conducive to business interests.  This is largely based on the assumption that the Republican party will not only hold (and perhaps expand) the majority in the House, but that they will likely take the majority in the Senate as well.  Given the number of Democratic Senators up for reelection and/or retiring, that likelihood seems almost certain.  So with both houses controlled by the Republicans the feeling is that there would be no need to compromise as much with the Senate as would be needed now.

The ultimate goal of any TSCA modernization from industry's perspective is to enable continued innovation in the development of new chemicals, where the US had led Europe and other nations for many years.

So expect no serious effort to pass TSCA reform in 2011 or 2012, with the prospects for 2013 and 2014 depending largely on the results of the 2012 elections.

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