"TSCA Reform" Legislation Introduced in Senate, Companion "Discussion Draft" Released in House

Date: Apr 15, 2010

Today Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, introduced highly-anticipated legislation that would significantly amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) "to ensure that risks from chemicals are adequately understood and managed" -- the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010." Sen. Lautenberg has chaired a number of hearings to help craft the legislation, over the past several months.

According to Lautenberg, "EPA does not have the tools to act on dangerous chemicals and the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws so that their customers are assured their products are safe." The Senator believes that the legislation "will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals . . . chemical safety reform is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is a common-sense issue."

The legislation would amend TSCA to:

  • Require manufacturers to develop and submit a minimum data set for each chemical they produce, and provide EPA with authority to request additional information.
  • Prioritize chemicals based on risk.
  • Require that a safety threshold is met for all chemicals on the market and shift the burden of proof to manufacturers to prove the safety of their chemicals.
  • Require EPA to take expeditious action to reduce risk from chemicals that have already been "proven" dangerous.
  • Establish a public database to catalog information submitted by chemical manufacturers and EPA's safety determinations.
  • Promote green chemistry and establish grant programs and research centers to foster the development of "safe" chemical alternatives.
  • Impose a five-year limit on the confidentiality of Confidential Business Information (CBI).
  • Allow EPA to determine that a "variant" of a chemical substance is a "new chemical," notwithstanding molecular identity.

In conjunction with the introduction of the Senate bill, today Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a "discussion draft" of parallel legislation. The Representatives are envisioning an outreach process before introducing a formal bill in the House.

The discussion draft contains a list of substances subject to expedited action, including bisphenol-A, formaldehyde, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, certain phthalates, lead, mercury, and other chemicals. The draft also establishes a program to increase understanding of the vulnerability of children to chemicals and includes measures intended to addresses public exposure of chemicals in certain "hot spot" locations.

Visit Keller and Heckman's TSCA Reform Center at www.tsca-reform.com for up-to-the-minute coverage and to review more detailed analysis of this legislation as it is developed. Keller and Heckman also plans to host a webinar to discuss the details and ramifications of these legislative actions in the near future.