Thursday, July 29, 2010

Toxic Chemicals Safety Act Hearing TODAY in House (PLUS, A List of Key Changes from Discussion Draft)

A reminder that today, July 29th beginning at 10 am ET there is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection on H.R. 5820, the “Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010.” The "legislation would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 to ensure that the public and the environment are protected from risks resulting from chemical exposure."

The invited witnesses at today's hearing include:
  • Steve Owens, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency
  • Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Calvin M. Dooley, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Chemistry Council
  • Howard Williams, Vice President, Construction Specialties, Inc.
  • Mark Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., President, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
  • Beth Bosley, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, Inc.
  • Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group
Most of these witnesses have testified before in the various House and Senate hearings on TSCA reform over the last 18 months.

A briefing memo, PDFs of the proposed bill, and "letters sent to witnesses to explain technical corrections" are all available on the Subcommittee hearing page. The "technical corrections" were to remove four words inadvertently included in the bill that should have been deleted. 

Most helpful is a brief (2-page) document that highlight "changes made to the discussion draft" first provided in April.  The changes include:

- Clarification of what they mean by "mixtures"
- Incorporation of suggestions related to the proposed "safety standard" to make it more workable
- Significant changes to the scope of the premanufacture notice requirement for new mixtures and new uses
- Provision of more detail about the "minimum data set" and the inclusion of a staggered reporting schedule based on production volume
- Creation of an exemption from core requirements for substances and mixtures that have been determined by the EPA to be safe based on intrinsic properties
- Improved process and requirements for approval of safer alternatives

More details after the hearing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Industry Reaction to the House Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010

As noted in my posts over the last few days, Representatives Waxman and Rush formally introduced their Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010.  Initial reactions have been offered by various stakeholders.  Given that all were released before anyone really had a chance to review the bill, they not unsurprisingly reflect the prior positions developed following the discussion draft.

Industry's reaction was mixed and somewhat noncommittal.  The American Chemistry Council, which represents many of the largest manufacturers of chemicals, issued a statement noting that the bill "is a step toward modernization of the nation’s chemical safety laws," but also suggesting that "more effort will be required to develop legislation that protects consumer safety, preserves America’s position as a leading innovator and safeguards American jobs."  The National Association of Manufacturers were more direct in stating their dislike for the bill, stating "“manufacturers are concerned with the direction taken in the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act.  In its current form, the bill hurts manufacturers’ ability to innovate and remain competitive in a global marketplace.  It dramatically expands the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority over every sector of our nation’s economy, sets unrealistic standards and timeframes and puts unnecessary burdens on manufacturers with new and inconsistent statutory requirements."   Similarly, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, which represents many smaller and specialty manufacturers, states that the legislation would significantly hamper innovation and impose stringent regulatory burdens on batch, specialty and custom chemical manufacturers - particularly small and mid-sized companies."

No one should be surprised that industry organizations, which had largely indicated support for the modernization of TSCA for the greater part of the last year or two, would express misgivings about the bills when finally introduced.  Obviously after 34-years under the old system, there is hesitancy to jump into something new too fast.  Especially when it could be a significant burden on their memberships.  Given the reaction from industry this would seem to be the final nail in the coffin for passing TSCA reform legislation in this Congress.  With only a handful of legislative days left in the session and a likely rather eventful mid-term election, clearly industry and the minority party in Congress have no incentive or desire to rush a comprehensive bill to passage.  And so there seems to be much work to be done before another version gets introduced in the next Congress beginning January 2011.

Tomorrow I'll take a look at the advocacy community reaction.

Monday, July 26, 2010

House Hearing on TSCA chemical Reform Scheduled

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection has scheduled a hearing on the newly introduced TSCA reform bill for this Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 10:00 am in the Rayburn Office Building in Washington DC.

The topic will be last week's introduction by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) of H.R. 5820, the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010.  This is the formal bill for the discussion draft Waxman and Rush offered on April 15th when Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Senate version of the bill.  The goal of both bills is to reform or modernize the 34-year old Toxic Substances Control Act that provides EPA with the authority to regulate chemicals.

A brief summary of the major points of the House bill is here.

The full text can be read here.