Monday, October 3, 2011

Is TSCA Reform Happening this Fall?

The short answer is, probably not.  But it does appear that Senator Frank Lautenberg's office will be pushing for a markup this fall of the draft bill introduced this past spring.  Lautenberg's "Safe Chemicals Act of 2011" included many industry-friendly changes from the original "Kid Safe Chemical Act" (including no longer mentioning kids in the name).  The bill introduced in April would have required companies to submit "basic hazard and exposure data to quickly determine the risk and assess the need for further testing or restrictions."

Over the summer the staffs of Senators Lautenberg and Inhofe held a series of stakeholder meetings in an effort to find common ground and a path forward.  These meetings included - separately - representatives from NGOs (e.g., Environmental Defense Fund) and industry (e.g., ACC and SOCMA).  Topics for the meetings included defining a "safety standard" and coming up with prioritization schemes that would focus efforts on those chemicals deemed most risky.  In August, EPA proposed such a prioritization scheme, which was countered by an alternative scheme by the American Chemistry Council.

Whether the markup happens or not will depend on the legislative calendar, but historically anything that doesn't get done by this fall will likely not get done during the 2012 election year.  With the initial changes Lautenberg already made and the Democrats' willingness to compromise the grand reform of TSCA for a more industry-friendly reform, the feedback from the stakeholder meetings suggest that any markup will further limit the extent of "modernization" of the 35-year old chemicals law.  Whether you believe that is a good thing or a bad thing may depend on from what perspective you bring to the table.

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