House holds hearing on Constitutional issues with focus on TSCA reform.

Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy heard testimony from legal experts on whether the Constitution’s Commerce Clause requires the preemption of state laws that are more stringent than federal ones. The hearing, titled “Constitutional Considerations: States vs. Federal Environmental Policy Implementation,” considered the scope and limitations of federalism in environmental policy generally. Witnesses and subcommittee members alike addressed the preemption concerns in the context of Congress’ recent attempts at modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), along with other issues, including the regulation of fracking. The witnesses testified on how federal environmental laws are grounded in the Constitution and run the gamut in terms of preemption and cooperative federalism. In particular, in a back-and-forth with Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Professor Rena Steinzor of the University of Maryland School of Law characterized the broad federal preemption of state regulatory programs as “unwise” as well as not required under the Constitution. Prof. Steinzor also stated that the preemption schemes in current TSCA reform proposals did not comport with the principles of cooperative federalism.

Background material and prepared testimony from the witnesses is available here; a video of the hearing is available on YouTube.