Bipartisan Proposal May Pave a Path Forward for Federal Chemical Regulation Reform

By: Peter Duchesneau
– Environmental Leader

To the surprise of many, on May 22, 2013, US Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) announced a bipartisan bill - the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) - to modernize the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). TSCA's approach to regulating chemical safety may have been novel when enacted nearly four decades ago, but in the years that followed, many have argued that it has proved to be largely ineffective. In the absence of TSCA modernization, as science and policy have matured, many states have moved ahead with their own rules, focused primarily on chemicals in consumer goods. While tirelessly advanced by the late Sen. Lautenberg, TSCA reform legislation has languished in Congress for nearly ten years. This time may be different, however. The bill is cosponsored by more than a dozen Democrat and Republican senators and quickly drew support from a wide range of industry and environmental organizations, from the American Chemistry Council to the Environmental Defense Fund. As a bipartisan proposal, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act raises the encouraging prospect that a path forward for chemical regulation reform may now have been paved, even though some bumps along the way may still lie ahead.

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