One year ago, Americans witnessed something happen in Washington that they don’t get to see all that often—the enactment of significant legislation with strong backing from both parties. In fact, it was the first major environmental law to make its way through Congress since 1990.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) was signed into law after passing Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. The anniversary is worth commemorating because LCSA is vital to protecting human health and the environment while also ensuring that U.S. chemical manufacturers can maintain global competitiveness in the 21st century.
A true watershed moment, LCSA was the first comprehensive update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since the law’s enactment 40 years ago; the result of years of work and negotiations between lawmakers of both parties along with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and other stakeholders from industry, environment, public health, animal rights and labor organizations.
Key framework rules
Here we are one year later, and look how far we’ve come. Over the past year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been hard at work to meet the stringent but achievable statutory deadlines for completing several essential rulemakings, including today’s release of three key framework rules that establish a strong foundation for implementation of LCSA:
- Inventory Reset Rule – process for sorting the TSCA inventory so that EPA can focus on chemicals that are currently active in commerce.
- Prioritization Rule – process for designating low priority chemicals, as well as the high priority chemicals that will move to risk evaluation.
- Risk Evaluation Rule – process for conducting risk evaluations on high priority chemicals.
These three rules are central to the efficient, high-quality chemical risk evaluations envisioned under LCSA. Congress demanded these framework rules foster a national chemical management system focused on the high priority chemicals that are in commerce today and that require risk evaluations. The processes established by these rules are fundamental to EPA’s ability to quickly and efficiently assess chemicals and uses for their priority, evaluate priority risks and take action to manage risks where required, all while applying high quality, reliable and relevant scientific evidence to make decisions.
Good news: the president’s budget proposal would deliver increased resources to EPA to implement LCSA, and EPA Administrator Pruitt’s public commitment to the successful implementation of the Act as envisioned by Congress is to be commended. The on-time completion and delivery of these framework rules along with EPA’s release of the scopes of the risk evaluations to be conducted for the first 10 substances for review, are more signs that the Agency, under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, is following through on those commitments.
Getting the framework rules in place is only the beginning, however. Truly successful implementation of LCSA goes beyond that. Our expectation isn’t that EPA simply meet the minimal requirements of the law; instead, it is our expectation that the rules clearly establish the framework for a modern chemical management system capable of meeting 21st century demands.
With appropriate resources, and by leveraging the experience of other governments (such as Canada and Australia), EPA can and should achieve a modernized TSCA under LCSA that is recognized as the new premier chemical regulation in the world.
At ACC, we will continue our constructive engagement with the Agency to ensure efficient and effective implementation of LCSA. Our goal is to make sure LCSA achieves what Congress intended: protect human health and environment; enhance public confidence in the federal chemical regulatory system; and enable our industry to continue to innovate, create jobs and grow the economy.