Friday, April 22, 2011

States Offer Their Reaction to Lautenberg's Safe Chemical Act

Last week Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced the 2011 version of his Safe Chemicals Act.  I have already given an introduction of the bill, the NGO reaction and Industry reaction.  Today we take a look at the reaction from the states.  On Wednesday the heads of the environmental protection agencies of several states issued a group press release commending Lautenberg "for introducing comprehensive legislation that reforms the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)."  They represent the states of California, Illinois, Oregon, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.

Overall, the states were very supportive...and in fact, very demanding...of a federal level modernization of TSCA.  According to Ted Sturdevant, Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology:

"We need a fix at the federal level so that we don’t have to do this in the states. States have limited resources and lack the tools of federal agencies to drive a national program. However, until we have a national solution, we will continue to act on chemical safety concerns in our states."

Like Washington State, California has been trying to deal with toxic chemical issues in the absence of an adequate federal law.  According to Linda Adams, Secretary of California EPA:

“In the absence of a unifying approach, interest groups and policy makers have been attempting to take these issues on one-by-one. We need a coordinated, comprehensive national strategy.  As we work toward these national reforms, California will continue to move ahead with its comprehensive green chemistry policy.”

Regulators in other states chimed in with similar stories.  All of them support a modernized TSCA that would, among other things:

  • Give EPA the authority to establish chemical safety standards and to take risk management actions when chemicals fail to meet those standards. 
  • Shift the burden to industry to demonstrate that chemicals meet safety standards.
  • Make available to the public more data and information now claimed as confidential.
  • Permit the sharing of confidential information with state regulators.
  • Provide for an enhanced state role in implementing the federal law and improved state/federal coordination.
More information on states' reaction to the Lautenberg bill can be found in the combined press release (e.g., this one from the State of Maryland).

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