Thursday, April 21, 2011

Industry Reaction to Lautenberg's Latest Iteration of Safe Chemicals Act

Last week I noted that Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced his Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which is an updated version of the bill he introduced in the last Congress.  It incorporates much of the feedback received from a wide variety of stakeholders last year.  On Tuesday I provided some of the initial reactions from NGOs, most notably from Richard Denison of EDF.  Denison hoped that this bill would be a starting point for serious discussions that would lead to modernization of the 35-year old TSCA law.  Today I note some of the industry reactions to Lautenberg's bill.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents most of the largest chemical manufacturers in the country, offered a mixed early reaction.  According to ACC President Cal Dooley:

ACC supported many of the goals and objectives of the senator's legislation in the last Congress, but his earlier proposal was inconsistent with the principles that we have set out for a successful TSCA modernization in several important respects. Further, the bill contained provisions that would not have produced the benefits intended by its authors. Unfortunately, it appears many of our concerns have not been addressed in this new version, and the bill introduced today could put American innovation and jobs at risk.

The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) also felt that the bill was an improvement but that it still left many concerns unanswered.  According to CSPA President Chris Cathcart:

The new bill introduced today moves in the right direction as it seeks to adopt important concepts of prioritization and tiered minimum data set requirements.  These two elements, along with the preservation of a risk based system, are essential components of any workable regulatory framework under TSCA.  However, we remain concerned about other sections of the bill, including its approach on Reporting and Declarations, the protection of confidential business information (CBI) and the safety standard. A bi-partisan dialogue can resolve these issues.

The industry/free market advocacy group American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) made no pretense of liking parts of the bill, with its President Elizabeth Whelan asserting:

This law is based on the premise that trace level exposure to chemicals is hazardous to health. Sen. Lautenberg is trying to ‘protect’ us from these chemicals, but there’s absolutely no evidence they have harmed humans or the environment.
The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) seemed more concerned over the bills impact on the economy than health and safety.  According to NPRA President Charles Drevna:

NPRA acknowledges Senator Lautenberg's efforts to exclude chemical mixtures from certain requirements and to incorporate some risk-based parameters into the proposed regulatory process. The draft bill, however, would give EPA unprecedented authority over the American economy, allowing the agency to make decisions on what materials can and cannot be used in manufacturing without requiring scientific justification for those decisions. The bill would also give EPA greater authority to force companies to spend enormous sums of money on animal testing, regardless of the likelihood or extent of potential human exposure to particular materials. 

So what next? It seems that both NGOs and industry see improvement over last year's version of Lautenberg's bill, but will there be a willingness to move forward on the common ground established in an effort to actually put a TSCA reform bill into law?

The ball is in the middle of the court.  Now we have to wait to see if any team wants to show up and play.

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