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House OKs Chemical Update

Thursday, May 26, 2016

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a final version of a bill that will update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), governing the manufacture, transportation and regulation of chemicals, including those used in paints and coatings.

chemical
© iStock.com / Tim Pohl

Lawmakers are hustling to pass a long-overdue update to the nation's primary chemical management law.

HR 2576 or the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, represents a bipartisan, bicameral compromise between previously cleared measures. The lawmakers voted to pass the legislation Tuesday (May 24).

Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) says the Senate is expected to pass the measure this week and the White House has said it will sign the bill into law.

“There is a widespread acknowledgement and understandable concern that nobody is well served by the current law,” Shimkus said in his remarks opening debate on the bill. “The legislation before us today is a vast improvement over current law and a careful compromise that is good for consumers, good for jobs and good for the environment.” 

Shimkus noted that the bill is the “culmination of a multi-year, multi-Congress effort and marks the first consequential update of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 40 years.”

Strong Support

The legislation has broad support from industry and environmental groups alike, including a number of chemical manufacturers and distributers, the congressman said.

The American Coatings Association has said a strong federal chemicals management program is “essential to avoid a patchwork of varied state chemical management regulations.”

“U.S. manufacturers and America’s consumers can take heart that a 21st century approach to managing chemicals is just steps away,” added American Chemical Council President and CEO Cal Dooley.

The Environmental Defense Fund says the bill dramatically improves the current law, which is described as "so weak that only a small fraction of the thousands of chemicals used in products have ever been reviewed for safety."

Overhauling Chemical Safety

According to Shimkus, the legislation:

  • Provides the Environmental Protection Agency with more direct tools to obtain testing information on chemical substances—an improvement over the lengthy process the agency now faces;
  • Restructures the way existing chemicals are evaluated and regulated—allowing a purely scientific evaluation to guide those decisions;
  • Clarifies the treatment of trade secrets submitted to EPA and ensures the agency uses only high quality science in its decision making;
  • Updates the collection of fees needed to support EPA's implementation of TSCA; and
  • Organizes the federal-state regulatory relationship in a way that promotes interstate and global commerce, while recognizing the efforts already taken by several states.

   

Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Construction chemicals; Raw materials; Regulations; Toxicity

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