Update on the commercial chemicals bill

As explored in earlier posts here and here and here, the Chemicals Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate last May to address many shortcomings of the Toxic Substances Chemical Act (TSCA), has been slowly making its way within committee.  Last week, a draft House bill, the Chemicals in Commerce Act, was floated by the chair of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee (of the House Energy and Commerce Committee), John Shimkus (R-Ill.)  congress

This morning’s Washington Post reports that the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) sent a letter to subcommittee chairman Shimkus and the ranking member, Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), expressing  concerns that the draft bill “would essentially eliminate state policymakers’ ability to regulate toxic chemicals at the state level by divesting all authority away from states and localities and placing this authority solely with the Administrator.”

The NCSL contends that sections 5, 6, and 17 of the draft bill would “prevent states from establishing or continuing to enforce any state regulation of chemicals if the EPA has made a safety determination on the chemical, would prohibit states from regulating or banning any new chemical when the EPA makes a safety determination, and would eliminate states’ ability to enact stricter or stronger laws than the federal government.”

earth in a beakerRep. Tonko empathizes with this federalist approach: “Federal law should set a floor to ensure a basic level of protection to all our citizens, but states must retain the right to act on behalf of their own citizens and to address circumstances that may be unique to their situations.”  This approach would allow the more than 60 laws currently in force in 22 states to continue.

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