As 25 bipartisan cosponsors work in the Senate to bring more of their colleagues on board the comprehensive, balanced Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), introduced in May by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), the House is holding hearings of its own to learn more about the current law that regulates industrial chemicals – the 37 year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
This week, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Environment and the Economy turned its focus to the importance of TSCA sections 5 (regulation of new chemicals) and 14 (protection of confidential business information) to protecting human health and the environment, while also promoting innovation, new product development, growth and competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
Both provisions have helped ensure a global competitive advantage for U.S. chemical manufacturers – and it’s one that American chemistry can’t afford to lose, as Craig Morrison, president, CEO and chairman of Momentive Performance Materials Holdings LLC, and chairman of ACC’s board of directors, testified before members of the House on Thursday.
Section 5: TSCA’s New Chemicals Program
EPA’s New Chemicals program under section 5 can rightfully be considered one of the major successes of TSCA. It’s a strong, well-functioning program for reasons which Morrison outlined for the subcommittee:
First, the program ensures a scientifically robust review of the potential hazards and exposures associated with a chemical substance. Second, it allows the EPA to tailor the process to fit the specific characteristics of an individual chemistry. And third, the process and timing of EPA’s review generally meets the demands of the marketplace.
Morrison noted that 90 percent of new chemical products Momentive introduced in the last five years have been able to come to market without the need for new animal testing, thanks to the reliable New Chemicals program.
Similarly, in testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and the Economy in June, Charles Auer, the former Director of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, which administers TSCA, likewise opined that section 5 has helped drive innovation and encouraged safer, new chemicals.
Section 14: Disclosure of Data, Confidential Business Information
TSCA section 14 provides important protection for trade secrets or confidential business information (CBI). This protection serves to reassure manufacturers that EPA will not release certain information provided to the Agency under TSCA, which would give foreign and domestic competitors the opportunity to benefit from the millions of dollars another business may have spent on R&D.
To put it simply, trade secret protection is crucial to U.S. competitiveness. If competitors have access to intellectual property as soon as it enters the market, there would be little incentive for companies to do business in the United States, as Dr. Len Sauers, P&G vice president of global sustainability, explained in his testimony. You can read his full testimony here.
Striking the right balance, here and now
This week’s hearing in the House is another exciting example of the growing interest in achieving sound TSCA reform.
ACC, the public and other stakeholders agree that it’s time to update TSCA in order to give Americans greater confidence in the safety of chemicals. Sensible reform is critical not only to the protection of health and the environment, but also to innovation, jobs and economic growth.
At ACC we are charged and fully committed to continue our work with the Senate and the House to reform TSCA in a way that preserves the best elements of the new chemicals program and improves the protection of CBI so that it protects Americans, while also ensuring our nation’s commercial and competitive interests.