Subcommittee Reviews Proposed Senate Reforms to Toxic Substances Control Act

November 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today continued its examination of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with a review of S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act. The legislation, authored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), represents a strong bipartisan effort to modernize the regulation of chemicals in commerce.

“We’re eager to learn what about this proposal brought such a diverse set of supporters together. We hope the administration and our stakeholder panel will tell us what they see as the best attributes of the legislation. We’re also open to suggestions on how to make it better,” said Chairman Shimkus.

While EPA did not offer an official position on the Senate bill, EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Jones expressed the pressing need for TSCA reform and committed to working with stakeholders and Congress to achieve meaningful improvements to the statute. Jones urged Congress to reform TSCA in a way that ensures the agency has the necessary authority and resources to successfully implement the law, stating, “While the EPA is committed to using the tools available under existing law, TSCA should be updated and strengthened, including providing the appropriate tools to protect the American people from exposure to harmful chemicals.”

Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, noted that the Senate proposal, along with efforts in the House, presents a positive path toward reform. Dooley praised the Senators efforts to achieve such broad and bipartisan support for the proposal, which he said has “kick-started a sincere and serious effort to reform chemical regulation.”

He added, “We are hopeful that with continued leadership from this committee and from bipartisan leaders in the Senate we can seize this truly unique opportunity to pass legislation that is important to the lives of American families and the success of American manufacturers.”

Dr. Richard Denison, Senior Scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, testified that the Senate bill “contains many elements of effective reform,” but also identified “fixable” problems with the proposal. He recommended changes to the legislation that are needed to improve the protection of public heath and achieve an efficient regulatory system. One of the changes he suggested was imposing workable deadlines to ensure timely decisions and avoid burdensome legal challenges. Denison stated, “I urge this subcommittee and all stakeholders to build on the foundation laid by a bipartisan group of Senators earlier this year and work to pass meaningful TSCA reform legislation in this Congress. The task will not be an easy one, but we simply can’t afford to waste this opportunity. If done right, the bill could pave the way to an effective and efficient system that fully protects public health, restores lost confidence in the safety of chemicals and chemical products, and provides incentives and the information needed for the market to avoid dangerous chemicals and innovate safer and greener ones.”

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “We can’t expect that all provisions of the legislation will satisfy everyone. But we intend to listen carefully to stakeholders and we will work arm-in-arm with members in both parties who want to work constructively toward a common goal: enacting legislation to modernize chemical regulation.”

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