House TSCA reform bill draws mixed reactions.

More reactions and commentary from a range of stakeholders are beginning to roll in following last week’s release of the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA), the proposed House legislation to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). As we discussed earlier, key Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman has said he does not support CICA in its current form, although he hopes to work with Republicans in crafting an improved version. Industry groups including the American Chemistry Council, American Cleaning Institute and Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates have expressed support for the draft bill by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), while many NGOs, including the Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, and Natural Resources Defense Council, have strongly criticized it. On its blog, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which expressed qualified support on the introduction of CICA, has identified two major flaws in the bill: state preemption and the “regulatory hoops” EPA would have to jump through in order to take any action, which EDF Senior Scientist Richard Denison says is “even more onerous and paralyzing” than the current law, and better addressed in the exemption provision in the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), which was introduced in the Senate last May.

Both bills were a popular topic at this week’s GlobalChem Conference in Baltimore, where panelists were optimistic that bipartisan support could mean TSCA reform could pass Congress this year. Connie Deford, Director of Products Sustainability and Compliance at Dow Chemical, emphasized that passing reform was a priority for the chemical sector, noting that consumer confidence in the industry was at an all-time low, the current approach is short-sighted, and reform is needed to continue to foster domestic innovation and competitiveness in the global arena. David McCarthy, Counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also emphasized the need for reform to keep the U.S. competitive globally. Mark Duvall, Partner at Beveridge & Diamond, highlighted differences between CICA and CSIA, including varying reporting requirements for processors and tort implications regarding the admissibility of EPA’s safety determinations.

We will be bringing you more in-depth analysis of CICA, including side-by-side comparisons to CSIA and current law, in the near future.