Cornucopia’s Take: The Lautenberg Act, passed in June to update the 40 year old Toxic Substances Control Act, finally gives the EPA authority to evaluate and regulate the commercial chemicals it oversees. The EPA has requested help from chemical corporations to determine how to prioritize chemical reviews and evaluate their safety. Predictably, chemical companies are offering a lot of “input” concerning the need for their favorite chemicals.
Defending their toxics – Industry pushes to protect its preferred chemicals under the new TSCA
by Elizabeth Grossman
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century was signed into law with a general sigh of relief that finally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have the authority needed to evaluate and regulate the tens of thousands of commercial chemicals it oversees in the U.S. But as the EPA begins implementing the new law, the chemical industry is already busy pushing the agency to limit scrutiny of various widely used, highly toxic chemicals.
Among the EPA’s first tasks under the Lautenberg Act is to enact rules outlining how it will prioritize chemicals for review and how it will assess chemical risks. As part of this process, the EPA has asked stakeholders for input on how these rules should be shaped. Reading industry representatives’ comments reveals that many are using this as an opportunity to defend select chemicals.
This is notable since the Lautenberg Act – that updates the Toxic Substances Control Act(TSCA) for the first time since TSCA was enacted in 1976 – was also welcomed for its “safety standard.” This replaces TSCA’s cost-benefit analysis that required EPA to include commercial considerations when deciding on chemical restrictions. But many industry group comments suggest we’ve not heard the last of the old argument.