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House zeroes in on TSCA reform “sweet spot” with CSIA hearing

When Jim Jones delivered his keynote remarks at the 2012 Global Chemical Regulations Conference, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention said he imagined a “sweet spot” for TSCA reform that would strike a very delicate balance: protecting human health while allowing U.S. manufacturers to continue to deliver the innovations that improve the quality of our everyday lives.

Fast-forward to Wednesday’s House Energy and Commerce hearing on the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA). Jones’ testimony represented the first time EPA has offered its view on the bill since its introduction last May, and it’s no coincidence that Jones used the term “sweet spot” several times in the discussion.

With a bipartisan coalition of twenty-five Senate Democrats and Republicans supporting the CSIA, along with environmental advocates, national and state organized labor, former senior EPA officials from both parties, small family-owned manufacturers across the U.S. and nearly 100 industry associations representing businesses of all sizes, the “sweet spot” Jones’ referred to can’t be far off.

And during the last minutes of his hour-long testimony – a Q&A session with Rep. John Barrow (GA-12) – Jones described a trio of significant improvements the CSIA makes over current law.

  • Mandating the EPA to evaluate existing chemicals – including priority chemicals grandfathered in when TSCA became law in 1976.
  • Giving EPA order authority to require manufacturers to generate health and safety findings so it can regulate chemicals more efficiently.
  • Requiring EPA make an affirmative finding for a new chemical before it enters commerce – a “significant improvement” over the current law, Jones said.

As the Environmental Defense Fund’s Richard Denison added later in the hearing, the CSIA “offers the first viable path toward actually passing reform legislation” and “tackles key problems” that have paralyzed EPA’s ability to take action on chemicals.

The CSIA may never be “perfect” according to any individual group or stakeholder, but that’s the nature of compromise. And ACC believes that with a true commitment to reform, these issues can be addressed in the same spirit of compromise that carried both sides to this delicate negotiating stage already.

Thanks to continued leadership from Rep. Shimkus and other leaders in the House and Senate, we have a truly unique opportunity to pass legislation that is important to the lives of American families and the success of American manufacturers.

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