Rep. Shimkus releases draft TSCA reform bill.

Yesterday, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced his proposal to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The legislation unveiled yesterday, the “Chemicals in Commerce Act” (CICA) [PDF], is billed as a discussion draft; Rep. Shimkus has emphasized that he is open to reworking the proposal based on feedback.

The CICA broadly resembles the Senate’s bipartisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA, S. 1009) in creating a prioritized two-tiered system for assessing existing chemicals. EPA would establish a system to designate chemicals as either high- or low-priority. The agency would be authorized to study whether high-priority chemicals pose risks to human health or the environment, including to vulnerable subpopulations, and to take regulatory actions – such as requiring labeling or volume limitations – as appropriate. CICA addresses the issue of preempting state laws – a major sticking point for critics of the CSIA – by keeping state measures in effect until EPA makes a final priority designation for each chemical.

In a statement, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would not support the bill in its current form, as it would “endanger the public health,” but expressed his willingness to work with the bill’s backers on changes to make it sufficiently protective of health and the environment “while ensuring workability for industry.”

The American Chemistry Council praised the bill, calling it a “balanced approach” to passing a critically-needed update of the country’s chemical management law. The Environmental Defense Fund’s response was more cautious, calling the CICA draft a “starting line in the House, not the finish.” Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of public health groups, unions, and other NGOs, was more critical in its response statement, saying the bill would “roll back the very limited oversight that we currently have.”

Stay tuned for more detailed analysis of CICA next week.