Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the TSCA Modernization Act (H.R. 2576), setting up the bill for a floor vote currently scheduled for June 23. The vote was 47-0 with one abstention, by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who warned of the legislation’s insufficient protections for state chemical laws. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), the initial author of the proposal, also won adoption of a technical amendment [PDF] making minor changes to the bill’s language.
The preemption of state laws has been a major sticking point in this year’s proposals to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in both the House and Senate. Notwithstanding changes to the TSCA Modernization Act designed to address those concerns, environmental and public health advocacy groups have not dropped their opposition to the bill. In addition, a dozen state Attorneys General representing California, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland, among other states, sent a letter [PDF] last week to Energy and Commerce Committee leaders Fred Upton (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ). In the letter, the Attorneys General expressed concern that the bill “scales back the states’ police powers and inhibits the traditional state-federal partnership that protects the public from toxic chemicals.” Following promises from Rep. Upton to negotiate new state preemption language before the floor vote, Rep. Eshoo agreed to withdraw her own proposed amendment [PDF] meant to clarify ambiguities on state authority. Rep. Pallone suggested that the state authority issues might be addressed later, although Rep. Shimkus suggested that the scope of the proposed changes may be too disruptive to win sufficient support for passage.
While the Environmental Working Group criticized the bill’s approval, saying the legislation “falls short,” industry groups responded favorably and continue to push for action in the Senate. Over 140 trade groups ranging from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, organized as the American Alliance for Innovation sent a letter [PDF] to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging the swift passage of S. 697, the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” which they described as a “balanced compromise.” Yesterday, Bloomberg BNA reported that Sen. McConnell had not scheduled floor time for the bill yet, so it would not reach the floor until July or August.