News & Press: Regulatory News

The "NEW TSCA"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014  
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THE “NEW TSCA”

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the master regulation which controls the use of chemicals in the USA, and it hasn’t been changed since it became law in 1976. Both environmental groups and the chemical industry agree that an update is needed to give the public the confidence that chemicals are being used safely and won’t affect people and the environment. Serious efforts began in Congress in 2010 with bills being proposed in both the House and the Senate that were not bipartisan and didn’t find much in common with all stakeholders. One plus: an onerous, REACH-like European regulation was not contemplated.

In late 2012 the late Senator Frank Lautenberg and Senator David Vitter reached a surprising agreement to update TSCA under the Chemicals Safety Improvement Act. This seemed to encompass most of what industry wanted and to which the environmental groups gave grudging acceptance. Ex-USEPA leaders have also supported it as being something they could actually implement. The Pine Chemicals Association (PCA) lobbied for this bill as part of the large coalition of trade groups called the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI). The House has also proposed a similar bill entitled the Chemicals in Commerce Act and AAI is lobbying hard for its approval. The main opposition has come from those states that have set up chemical control programs of their own (e.g. California) and those who want to do so (e.g. Vermont); the “new TSCA” would preempt parts of their regulations in favor of a single federal standard.

The “new TSCA” – whatever it is called – will give USEPA the power to require test studies and exposure information on existing chemicals that are prioritized on the estimated basis of overall risk and to provide safety determinations and risk management. New chemicals will be dealt with as usual; TSCA has an efficient program to evaluate these and to control the risks.

The PCA through its Product Regulatory & Stewardship Committee and its membership in AAI continues to monitor the “new TSCA” closely. We want to be sure that our “green,” sustainable products are not unduly restricted in their end-uses and so far we are happy with the results. Who knows - we may even have a new law passed before the mid-term elections.