Chemical Safety | Federal: U.S. House of Representatives Proposes TSCA Reform Bill

A discussion draft regarding modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the nation’s foremost chemical law has been introduced by the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), on April 8, 2015. 

The draft bill is considered narrower in scope than the TSCA reform proposals that are currently in the Senate (vigilance link), including Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M) and David Vitter (R-L.A.)’s S. 697.

Since TSCA has not been amended in nearly 40 years, there has been a push in the U.S. legislature recently to modernize the law, which imposes reporting and recordkeeping requirements on chemical manufacturers and importers.  Like Senate Bill 697, Shimkus’ draft bill introduced in the House of Representatives proposes a new system for EPA to evaluate chemical risk.  Notably, the discussion draft omits the requirement that the EPA select the “least burdensome” regulation of a harmful chemical.  Instead, it mandates that EPA consider economic factors such as cost-effectiveness, chemical benefit, and market consequences when determining chemical rules.

By comparison, the Udall-Vitter Senate plan dictates that the EPA determine whether a chemical poses an unreasonable risk without considering cost.

Another unique aspect of Shimkus’ proposal involves the preemption of state chemical laws, which has been one of the contentious issues in striving for TSCA reform. Like Senate Bill 697, the House discussion draft would override conflicting existing and new state chemical laws. However, the draft  :

  • proposes that preemption would occur when the EPA has made a final decision on whether the chemical poses an unreasonable risk rather than when it begins evaluating a chemical.
  • holds the EPA to a 3-year timeline for completing a risk evaluation for EPA-selected substances. 
  • In addition, the EPA would have to complete evaluations initiated by manufacturers within 180 days, though industry may fast-track these evaluations.

On April 14, 2015, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing regarding the discussion draft, viewable here.

Red-on-line EHS Legal specialist

Sources:

Discussion Draft: H.R. ___, The TSCA Modernization Act of 2015, April 14, 2015.

S. 697 Sen.s Tom Udall (D-N.M) and David Vitter (R-L.A.)