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A Different Strategy for 2010 TSCA Reform

Date: Feb 01, 2010

Throughout 2009, we anticipated the introduction of a bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). It now appears that a legislative TSCA reform proposal is imminent. According to staffers within the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Subcommittee is actively working to prepare a new draft of legislation to reform TSCA.

There has been much speculation as to whether the new bill will merely replicate the 2005 and 2008 versions of the Kid Safe Chemicals Act (KSCA), the main TSCA reform proposal in recent years. Committee staff indicate that the new bill will incorporate excerpts from KSCA, but will ultimately rely on a different strategy.

Our sources on the Hill indicate that there may be internal disagreement as to whether Senator Frank Lautenberg or Senator Barbara Boxer will be the primary sponsor of the bill. While Senator Lautenberg was the main sponsor of previous versions of KSCA, it now appears that the House may be taking the lead in drafting a reform bill.

The House Subcommittee now drafting the reform bill held the first hearing on TSCA reform in February. (For a summary of the hearing, please click here.) The Subcommittee followed with another hearing in November. The official topic of the hearing was prioritization of chemicals for safety determination, particularly regulatory prioritization, but witnesses also discussed legislative measures to modify chemical regulation. (A summary of the hearing is available here.)

According to Congressional staff, the Senate will hold a hearing on February 4 to discuss the science of human exposure to chemicals. Proposed witnesses for the first panel include Steve Owens, Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, as well as witnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The second panel will likely feature three majority witnesses: Ken Cook, co-founder of the Environmental Working Group; Dr. Tracy Woodruff, Director of The Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment and the University of California, San Francisco; and Molly Gray, who may be the midwife/naturopathic physician featured in the Washington Toxics Coalition report entitled Earliest Exposures: A Research Project by Washington Toxics Coalition. (The report is available here.) The panel will also feature one independent witness, a practicing physician and toxicologist who will discuss the purpose and limitations of biomonitoring.

Sources on the Hill continue to predict that we will see at least one hearing in both the House and the Senate before the bill itself is introduced, so this week's Senate hearing would bring us one step closer to the new reform proposal.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of TSCA reform, please visit http://tsca-reform.com.