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Third Anniversary of the 2016 Amendments to TSCA

On June 22, the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) turned three, and what a three years it has been!

How it happened

The bill that updated TSCA, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, was signed by President Obama on June 22, 2016.  It was the first major environmental law to pass Congress since 1990 and the first major reform to the law since it was first enacted in 1976.

Those amendments were the result of years of work and negotiations between lawmakers of both parties along with ACC and other stakeholders from industry, environment, public health, animal rights and labor organizations. Passage of this critical update to TSCA was a rare feat in today’s political environment as the bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. House by a vote of 398-1 and unanimous consent in the Senate.

Implementation of the law

Since enactment three years ago, EPA has been hard at work effectively and efficiently implementing the law as Congress intended. The agency continues to consistently meet key TSCA deadlines and requirements. Some of the most important milestones during that time include:

  • Finalization of the framework rules that act as the foundation for the updated TSCA;
  • Resetting the TSCA inventory to determine how many active chemicals are in commerce (currently around 40,000) vs. inactive chemicals, which should help EPA prioritize its evaluation of TSCA chemicals;
  • Finalization of the fees rule that will help defray a portion of the costs to implement TSCA;
  • The release of the first draft risk evaluation for one of the first 10 chemicals (with the next 9 expected this summer; and
  • Identifying the next set of candidates for 20 low priority chemicals as well as 20 high priority chemicals that will undergo full risk evaluations.

There have also been challenges along the way, including the new chemicals review program, which continues to be a priority for industry stakeholders. Immediately following enactment, EPA was faced with a backlog of chemicals it had to review and make an affirmative safety determination on before they could go to market. Those delays have a significant adverse impact on research and development expenditures, planning product launches, development of new sustainable chemistries, innovation and competitiveness.

However, we’re hopeful that delays will continue to decline with improved processes and better communication between submitters and regulators. The regulated community and the agency must continue to make the program more transparent and consistent so risk-based decisions can be made in a timely manner.

Looking ahead

There is much more EPA has been doing to successfully implement the law, and there is a lot of work left to be done. ACC and its member companies will continue to support and meet the requirements of the law in order to help ensure implementation enhances public, industry, and government confidence in the federal chemical regulatory system. We are confident that once fully implemented, TSCA will represent the premier chemical regulation in the world. Successful implementation of the law, in accordance with the statute and congressional intent, is essential to ensuring protections for human health and the environment, while enabling our industry to continue to innovatecreate jobs and grow the economy.

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