Congress continues to make progress in addressing concerns about the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), with one congressional aide close to the process telling ChemicalWatch last week that “all the concerns and issues are solvable.” However, industry and NGO sources say the remaining issues that need to be dealt with make it unlikely that the TSCA reform bill will pass before the end of this year.
The CSIA is currently before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-CA). In August, Sen. Boxer dropped her opposition to the CSIA and promoted “fast-tracking” the compromise bill. However, Sen. Boxer has said that the bipartisan bill can move forward only if the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is amended to incorporate some “basic principles” such as specific protection for vulnerable populations, more definite time frames for EPA action, and holding all responsible parties accountable in cases of harm. Most importantly, Sen. Boxer wants the bill’s language to ensure that state laws such as California’s Proposition 65 are not preempted.
Staff from the offices of Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Tom Udall (D-NM), who co-sponsor the CSIA, have been working together on revisions to address concerns raised by Sen. Boxer and NGOs. As we previously reported, Sen. Vitter has said that the CSIA is not intended to eliminate private rights of action under state tort law, or remove the authority of any state to protect their water, air, or citizens.
The Congressional aide that spoke to ChemicalWatch said that whether the bill will be marked up this year depends largely on the EPW Committee’s other agenda items. Both industry and NGO sources do not expect passage of a TSCA reform bill this year, although prospects seem better for passage during the second year of the 113th Congress. Meanwhile, the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, which held three informational hearings on TSCA this year, plans to hold its first hearing on the CSIA on November 13.