Issue Date: August 7, 2006
Hearing Reviews Federal Chemical Rules
For the first time in more than a decade, a U.S. Senate committee last week checked up on the federal system for regulating industrial chemicals.
The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on Aug. 2 examined EPA's regulation of commercial chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Congress has not revised that statute since it was enacted in 1976 and has paid little attention to TSCA in the past 30 years.
The panel heard from a representative of the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, which in 2005 issued a report critical of EPA's ability to manage chemicals and recommended changes to TSCA (C&EN, Aug. 8, 2005, page 32). Also calling for amendments to the statute were a Clinton Administration EPA assistant administrator and the lead author of a recent report recommending that California tighten its regulation of chemicals because TSCA authorities are deficient (C&EN, March 20, page 9).
A representative of the American Chemistry Council spoke at the hearing, along with an attorney who counsels industry clients on TSCA. Both defended the law as written, saying it works well and affords flexibility to chemical manufacturers and EPA.
James B. Gulliford, EPA assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides, and toxic substances, told the committee the statute provides sufficient authority for regulating commercial chemicals to protect health and the environment. "We think TSCA is a very effective statute," Gulliford stated.
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