Subcommittee Begins Review of Chemicals in Commerce Act

March 12, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today began its review of the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA). The draft legislation, put forward by Chairman Shimkus, aims to improve public confidence in the safety of chemicals produced and used in the United States, and to facilitate interstate commerce in American-made chemicals and the products that contain them. The draft creates a prioritization and evaluation program for existing chemicals in commerce and gives EPA authority to set a uniform federal standard for each chemical.

Over the last year, the subcommittee has held five hearings examining the current Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which revealed the need for reforms. Chairman Shimkus authored the draft legislation to improve and modernize the law, and expressed his commitment to continuing an open and collaborate process. “Over the past year we have participated in five hearings at which we’ve dug into TSCA, learning the issues section by section, and thinking about how we could make this law work better. In recent weeks we’ve had several conversations at the member level. We’ve exchanged thoughts on where we can find common ground,” said Shimkus. “Those conversations have helped us understand each other’s perspectives much better. That work is continuing and, I hope, will help us as members to collaborate on a bill we can embrace going forward.”

Skyping in from Brussels, Director of Government Affairs for the Automobile Manufacturers Jennifer Thomas applauded the draft legislation for providing a clear and consistent regulatory environment that will enhance the safety reputation of made-in-America products. Thomas stated, “Some may question why an industry that relies heavily on chemical substances would support legislation that would provide EPA more authority and better tools to regulate chemicals. But this is entirely in keeping with our overall desire as auto companies to offer the best and safest products possible to our customers in the most effective and efficient manner possible. We believe the draft Chemicals in Commerce Act will provide EPA the ability to more effectively protect the public and environment from harmful chemical substances, while providing industry a clearer and more consistent regulatory roadmap at the federal level.”

Carolyn Duran, Intel Corporation’s Director of Supply Chain Ramp and Regulations, also welcomed the draft, stating, “This language provides a valuable roadmap that will allow EPA to address chemical substances in specific articles when warranted and do so in a targeted manner. Such an approach allows EPA to provide protection for human health and the environment while also providing important predictability for high tech companies and the many other U.S. industries that manufacture products that are considered ‘articles’ in the context of TSCA.”

James Stem, National Legislative Director at the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Union, explained how the draft’s improvements to TSCA would help support America’s manufacturing renaissance and create jobs. “Modernizing TSCA takes on new urgency as our American chemical industry prepares to make major investments in U.S. production facilities in the wake of the natural gas boom … exporting thousands of tons of chemical products manufactured in this country by American workers is not a dream, but a realistic appraisal of the opportunities on the table today,” said Stem. “We support reform that will achieve the following goals: strengthen our chemical safety law to protect human health and the environment; restore public confidence about the safety of chemicals in commerce; and help the U.S. chemical industry innovate and grow, providing good jobs.”

Connie DeFord, Director of Product Sustainability and Compliance at Dow Chemical Company, expressed the urgent need for TSCA reform and praised the committee’s ongoing efforts. “The House discussion draft, Chemicals in Commerce Act, represents a significant advance over our current chemical management system, and we urge the subcommittee to introduce, debate, improve, approve, and move this bill so that enactment of TSCA reform becomes a reality this year,” said DeFord.

“We need to do all we can to promote America’s manufacturing sector and create jobs. This bill will help create manufacturing jobs in not only those plants that manufacture chemicals, but also in plants that use them to make cars, computer chips, and thousands of other goods,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “This bill is good news for jobs, for the economy, and for a safer America. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get it done.”