Congress’ efforts to pass legislation modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) have flown under the radar in recent months, but this weekend, the Associated Press provided an update on the difficult path for TSCA reform in the Senate. The AP reports that during the summer, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) rejected the revised version of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) presented to her by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and David Vitter (R-LA). Sens. Boxer and Udall both agreed that the new draft’s state preemption provisions remained too broad and must be narrowed.
This latest draft has not been released publicly, although Sen. Udall said it makes “big progress” with regard to TSCA’s safety standard and stressed that it “is a huge improvement compared to the law as it stands now, and as it has stood since 1976.” In contrast, Sen. Boxer said the new draft does not make needed improvements to TSCA. Sen. Boxer pointed to the legislation’s long timelines for reviewing chemicals of concern, saying the bill “could leave nearly a thousand chemicals of greatest concern unaddressed.”
Sen. Boxer also told the AP she would propose a provision to specifically address toxic chemicals that could endanger drinking water, like the chemical MCHM that contaminated drinking water in a massive spill in West Virginia last January.
The AP article quotes NGO representatives from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Environmental Defense Fund as optimistic that TSCA reform will eventually pass. The American Chemistry Council, which backs the CSIA, has set passing TSCA reform as its top legislative priority, and spent almost $6 million in lobbying during the first half of the year.