Two more lessons learned from GlobalChem 2013

1. Better Data, Better Decisions

One of the major issues raised around the effectiveness of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) centers around the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) understanding of chemicals in commerce.

For example, the current TSCA inventory includes more than 84,000 chemicals. However, it is widely recognized the inventory does not reflect the actual number of chemicals in commerce today. That’s because, once a substance is added to the Inventory, it remains on the Inventory and is not removed – even when it is no longer in commercial use.

All of this underscores the importance of the information EPA has collected under the new Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule, which requires manufacturers and importers to provide manufacturing, processing, and use data for calendar year 2011, as well as production volume data for calendar year 2010 for all reportable chemical substances.

As ACC Director of Regulatory & Technical Affairs Robert Kiefer told ICIS, ACC supports the CDR and believes the information EPA has collected and will continue to collect under it in future years will enhance its ability to regulate chemicals under TSCA:

It is very important for EPA and industry to get the CDR data right. TSCA is currently limited with respect to its ability to track current chemicals in commerce. The CDR will provide EPA with manufacturing and process data that it can use for prioritization and risk assessments, such as for the work plan chemicals.

According to the Agency, the data generated by the CDR “will help EPA and others better assess chemicals, evaluate potential exposures and use, and expand efforts to encourage the use of safer chemicals.”

And as EPA’s Rosemarie Kelly stressed during the TSCA Enforcement session at the 2013 Global Chemical Regulations Conference (GlobalChem), the CDR is not a “paperwork exercise” and will be critical to many environmental and health programs beyond TSCA. EPA will also use CDR information to better understand the roles certain chemicals play when it comes to air emissions, hazardous waste, and discharges to water bodies, and then determine the appropriate regulatory action that might be needed.

As a next step, ACC looks forward to working with EPA to prioritize chemicals for further review and assessment, which will help better inform the Agency regarding chemicals in commerce and ultimately help improve the quality of regulatory decisions concerning the safe use of chemicals.

Furthermore, we believe that continuing to improve how the Agency collects, uses, and protects information is critical to putting together an effective legislative proposal for updating TSCA.

2. Strengthened Partnerships, Further Progress

GlobalChem 2013 concluded with ACC Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs Mike Walls moderating a plenary session on regulatory cooperation — a key avenue for seeing the elimination of unnecessary burdens on regional cross-border trade, reducing costs, fostering investment, and promoting certainty for businesses and government.

At the closing session, Sean Heather, Vice President of the Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that it was time to bridge the gap between our domestic regulatory traditions and the global economy in which we live.

Minister Hiddo Houben of the Delegation of the EU to the U.S. called it imperative that the chemical industry be included as a priority sector for regulatory cooperation, noting there is at least $1.5 billion at stake for U.S. chemical manufacturers.

As Walls recently told ICIS, the goal here is not to “generate identical regulatory standards” — for example, on REACH and TSCA — but to come to a broad agreement on areas like the prioritization of chemicals for testing and assessment and the elimination of costly trade barriers:

If we’re confident of the scientific expertise on both sides of the Atlantic and if we’re talking about two systems of regulation which we are trying to prioritize for assessment, couldn’t we pursue greater cooperation in that area? Could we agree on a trans-Atlantic list of chemicals which we might prioritize for assessment?

Reduced costs for the business of chemistry from enhancing regulatory cooperation and eliminating unnecessary tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade can be passed downstream to businesses that rely on our industry’s products.

Greater regulatory cooperation can also improve how chemicals are managed in the U.S. and Europe, while ensuring that the tangible benefits of chemistry can be realized worldwide.

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