On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act — S. 697, the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.” S. 697 is sponsored by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and David Vitter, R-La., with 60 bipartisan cosponsors, representing 38 states.
If enacted, S. 697 would lead to sweeping changes for the regulation of chemicals in the U.S., by requiring safety reviews for all new and existing chemicals, giving EPA broad testing authority, and limiting companies’ ability to protect confidential business information indefinitely. Most notably, S. 697 appears to have struck the right balance to achieve bipartisan support on the important issue of preemption — allowing all state laws in effect before August 1, 2015 to remain in place but precluding states from additional regulation of chemicals for a given use once EPA has begun its review. Although the American Chemistry Council and other industry members have recognized the need for TSCA reform to regain consumers’ confidence in the safety of the domestic chemical industry’s products, it has been a hard-fought battle to preserve some level of preemption of state regulation to ensure a national, consistent program for chemical regulation.
The House of Representatives passed a more limited TSCA reform bill this past June. Next, a conference committee will need to reconcile the two bills before delivering a final bill to President Obama for signature.
For questions or for more information on congressional TSCA reform, contact the post authors.