Lawmakers are one step closer to passing legislation this year that would modernize how commercial chemicals are managed in the U.S. Bipartisan legislation to overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act sailed through a key House of Representatives committee on June 3.
The bill—the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576)—won near unanimous approval in the Energy & Commerce Committee. But several Democrats urged committee leaders to clear up ambiguities regarding how states may enforce their own chemical control laws before the bill is considered by the full House.
Democrats also raised concerns about a provision that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate any chemical requested by a manufacturer. Such requests, they said, could tie up EPA’s resources, preventing the agency from reviewing the riskiest chemicals.
Both the chemical industry and most public health groups agree the bill would be a huge improvement over current law.
More than 150 trade groups, including the American Chemistry Council and other organizations representing chemical manufacturers, are urging the House to quickly pass the bill. “H.R. 2576 represents another significant milestone in the growing momentum in the House and the Senate to enact meaningful TSCA reform legislation this year,” says ACC CEO Calvin M. Dooley.
Some activist groups, however, claim that the bill falls short of what’s needed to ensure that everyday chemicals are safe. In a letter to committee leaders, a coalition of such groups warns that “industry-initiated reviews will overwhelm” EPA’s review program.
The House is expected to vote on the bill before the Fourth of July recess.