Earlier I posted about some new legislation that has been introduced to amend and improve the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has not changed much since it went into effect back in 1976.
I've read the entire bill, but I'm sure that you can all understand that something that no doubt took a lot of people a long time to put together isn't easy to break down all in one sitting. So I'm going to go just a few sections (or just one section if it's really huge) at a time. I'm doing this with the help of Bergeson & Campbell PC, an environmental law firm that sends out notifications about changes in the law and provides training seminars for people like me to understand the law.
(Visual approximation of Bergerson & Campbell)
Now, onto the commentary:
Section 1 contains your basic legislation introduction, which is the short title, table of contents, and references. Not much to comment on, since the real meat of the bill starts in Section 2.
Section 2 is intended to entirely replace the corresponding section in TSCA. The two core purposes of CSIA listed in Section 2 are as follows:
- To improve the safety of consumers in the United States
- To ensure that risks from chemical substances are adequately understood and managed by modernizing TSCA
Section 2 also lists some findings that led to the creation of CSIA. It identifies problems with TSCA and the structure of the EPA's handling of chemical substances and explains the need for change:
- Chemical substances should be safe for their intended use
- Un-managed risks of chemical substances may pose a danger to the public
- Public confidence in the federal chemical regulatory program has diminished over time
- Scientific understanding has greatly evolved since the enactment of TSCA in 1976
- This requires Congress to update the law, to ensure that the regulation of chemicals in the U.S. reflects modern science, technology and knowledge
- Chemicals are used in diverse manufacturing industries and other valuable commercial, institutional and consumer applications in ways that have been a benefit to society
There are also findings that relate specifically to the pre-emption of state law and the role of technological and scientific innovation, which are probably the two most potentially contentious parts of this legislation.
The intent of the bill in pre-empting state law is to present a unified code of protection, to reduce the burden of this regulatory task on the states, and to balance the competing interests between due diligence of protecting the public and undue burden on commerce.
The bill is forward-looking in that it recognizes the potential for scientific development and increased understanding that could positively impact the risk faced by the public from chemical exposure. Specifically, it says "innovation in the development of new chemical substances, especially safer chemical substances, should be encouraged to reduce risk, provide improved products, stimulate the economy, create jobs, and protect interstate commerce." (Emphasis added.)
CSIA significantly expands the policy statement of TSCA, which was originally to protect the public from "unreasonable risk to human health or the environment." CSIA expands this statement to say that the Act "should protect the health of people and the environment from unmanaged risks of chemical substances" and "should be modernized to build public confidence in the ability of the Federal regulatory system to protect health and the environment, promote innovation, and sustain a globally competitive chemical industry in the United States."
This is all about making sure that the EPA has the authority to collect and require the information necessary to make informed, transparent decisions about chemical regulation.
CSIA retains all of the definitions laid out in TSCA but adds a few new terms of art. It will be crucial to understand their definition in order to understand how these will be interpreted as a matter of law, because as is usually the case with environmental law, there will be a shit-ton of litigation if it passes.
Best Available Science means means science that "maximizes the quality, objectivity, and integrity of information, including statistical information"; "uses peer-reviewed and publicly available data"; and "clearly documents and communicates risks and uncertainties in the scientific basis for decisions."
Intended Conditions of Use means "the circumstances under which a chemical substance is intended or reasonably anticipated to be manufactured, processed, distributed in commerce, used, and disposed of." The interpretation of this one has a lot of important implications.
Safety Assessment means a "risk-based assessment of the safety of a chemical substance that (A) integrates hazard; use; and exposure information about a chemical substance and (B) includes . . . an assessment of exposure under the intended conditions of use; and . . . reference parameters that may be appropriate with regard to a specific chemical substance (such as a margin of exposure)."
Safety Determination means a determination by EPA "as to whether a chemical substance meets the safety standard under the intended conditions of use."
Safety Standard means standard that "ensures that no unreasonable risk of harm to human health or the environment will result from exposure to a chemical substance." This is a little bit of a callback to TSCA's original policy statement, except that it's a lot more firm. This is a "will not" statement, which is much stronger than the 1976 version.
So this is it for now - I'll write another post next week tackling Section 4, which is ginormous because it describes an entirely new evaluation structure. Let me know what you guys think.