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Web Date: September 20, 2011

Chemicals Of Concern

Government: Senators ask White House to release EPA’s proposal to create new list of substances
Department: ACS News, Government & Policy
Keywords: TSCA, EPA, chemicals of concern

The White House is under pressure from two democratic senators to release a list of chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency says could endanger human health or the environment. This so-called chemicals of concern list would include eight phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and bisphenol A.

The chemical industry has attempted to block release of EPA’s proposed list over the past year.

Congress granted EPA the authority to create such a list in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was signed into law in 1976. But EPA hasn’t attempted to use this authority until now.

Now, Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are calling on the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to finish its regulatory review of the EPA list, which it began in May 2010. The list would not propose controls on the chemicals included, but it is nonetheless considered a regulation. Generally, OMB finishes its review of proposed regulations within three or four months.

Lautenberg and Whitehouse, who are sponsoring a bill (S. 847) to modernize TSCA, wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to OMB, “As Congress works toward reform of the law, it is important that EPA is allowed to fully utilize its current authorities under TSCA to provide the public with information on chemicals that might pose unreasonable risk.”

OMB records show that representatives of the chemical industry met with White House officials about the proposed list seven times since June 2010. Such meetings included officials from Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and Saudi Basic Industries Corp., as well as the trade associations American Chemistry Council and Flexible Vinyl Alliance.

Industry has argued to OMB that placing substances—especially phthalates, a class of compounds widely used in plastics—on the chemicals of concern list would hurt business, contribute nothing to public health, decrease exports, and kill jobs. Before EPA proposes the list, industry wants the agency to lay out criteria for selecting chemicals on it.

It’s unclear how far these industry arguments will go with OMB.

 
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ISSN 0009-2347
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