This week the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a full committee vote on H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act. This bipartisan Act, sponsored by Representative Shimkus (R-IL) and co-sponsored by Representatives Upton (R-MI), Pallone (D-NJ) and Tonko (D-NY), would offer much needed reforms to chemical regulation in the U.S. that would benefit consumers and the nation’s economy.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976 to regulate the production and use of chemicals in American commerce. However industry innovations in product development and chemical safety have far outpaced the Act’s provisions leaving it outdated and untouched by lawmakers for almost 40 years.
This has led to criticism of TSCA over the years from industry, environmental and consumer groups that all point to inefficiencies in the Act’s chemical evaluation process, as well as a patch work of state regulations that can stymie interstate commerce and increase compliance issues for businesses.
Both of these concerns have far reaching impacts on the economy and consumer confidence, further making the case for reforms. As such, the TSCA Modernization Act or H.R. 2576 would alleviate these longstanding issues surrounding TSCA by offering common sense reforms.
First, H.R. 2576 puts in place measures to improve the chemical review process in order to increase consumer protections. The Act establishes hard and fast deadlines for EPA decisions on risk evaluations and requires such decisions be based on health and environmental considerations as opposed to costs. It also requires full consideration of vulnerable subpopulations and ensures each review is based on the best available science.
Additionally, products that fall within TSCA’s purview often move in and out of interstate commerce, being used as part of manufactured goods or as intermediaries in industrial processes. Due to inefficiencies in TSCA on the federal level, this has led to a patchwork of state laws that has contributed to burdensome compliance issues and uncertainty for businesses.
H.R. 2576 would remedy such compliance issues by providing for a more cohesive national chemical regulatory program that gives businesses and states a new level of certainty with regards to interstate commerce. The Act would also provide for state interests by allowing states to act if the EPA does not.
The time has come for lawmakers in Congress to act to update and improve the Toxic Substances Control Act. For too long TSCA provisions have gone wanting, however the TSCA Modernization Act (H.R. 2576) now offers a bipartisan solution to reforming this outdated legislation.
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