A week after the release of House Democrats’ proposed revisions to the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA), industry groups have responded with criticism and a renewed interest in the Senate’s Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), the stalled legislation that also aims to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Meanwhile, the attorneys general of ten states have also expressed their support for the CSIA in a letter to Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and David Vitter (R-LA), the Chairwoman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
In contrast to the April letter from 13 Democratic attorneys general opposing CICA, the pro-CSIA letter is at least nominally bipartisan: all of the signers are Republicans except for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. The letter tackles Democrats’ preemption concerns head-on by praising CSIA as balancing “States’ needs to protect the health of their citizens and resources with the need to create a coherent and cohesive regulatory framework for chemical manufacturers.” The AGs also write that the Senate bill “gives States direct routes to participate in the process of identifying and evaluating chemical safety, including requests to prioritize specific chemicals and to re-prioritize a chemical based on new information.” The preemption provisions in both bills have been a point of major contention, particularly with Sen. Boxer, who has stated that any TSCA reform that fails to preserve state laws like California’s Proposition 65 is “a non-starter.”
However, according to statements made by Sen. Vitter earlier this year, progress has been made on CSIA behind the scenes, although a spokesman for Sen. Vitter told E&E Daily that there is currently no timetable for passing the bill.
Major chemical industry groups have criticized the House Democrats’ negotiating language, pointing out its similarity to legislation introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) that failed in 2010. Chemical Week quoted leaders from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), and the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) all disapproving of the Democrats’ proposal. Officials from the ACC and SOCMA both placed the blame squarely on Rep. Waxman, saying his proposal would “undermine the effort to move legislation forward in the House” and “would not be palatable for Republicans.”
Public health and advocacy NGOs have been more reticent. Andy Igrejas, of the Safer Chemicals, Health Families coalition, said his coalition had not adopted a formal position on the Democratic proposal but expressed support for some of its aspects, including the “smaller” prioritization scheme and “fixing ‘unreasonable risk’ in ways that makes it clear that it is a health only standard that protects vulnerable populations.”