Last week, the Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) released a new report previewing chemical regulation issues for the 113th Congress. According to CRS, lawmakers are likely to prioritize legislative priorities that languished in the last Congress, like bills that would require increased public disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing as well as a proposal to broadly reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”).
Legislative TSCA reform efforts are already under way; in a January 4, 2013 statement on EPA’s release of its TSCA Work Plan draft risk assessments, Sen. Frank Lautenberg emphasized the continuing need to pass TSCA reform. A long-time advocate of TSCA reform, Sen. Lautenberg promised that he would re-introduce his Safe Chemicals Act. Last summer, the Safe Chemicals Act was successfully reported out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works but failed to win Republican support and never reached a floor vote. Sen. David Vitter is reportedly preparing a competing TSCA reform bill for the new Congress as well.
CRS also highlighted scientific integrity issues that have been raised in recent years, such as the compositional balance of EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board and the need for reforming the agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (“IRIS”) for conducting chemical risk assessments. Legislators may also pick up where the 112th Congress left off on exempting the regulation of certain pesticide applications under the Clean Water Act. In addition, Congress may amend existing statutes to implement three U.S.-signed treaties on the reduction of persistent organic pollutants (“POPs”). In appropriations activity, CRS reported that Congress is expected to revise parameters for grants that address lead paint hazards in older homes, a program which is generally funded at over $100 million.