Don't write off Vitter bill, urges ACC head
27 February 2013 / United States
American Chemistry Council (ACC) ceo, Cal Dooley, urged Congress and others interested in reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) not to go by media reports and prejudge a bill that Republican senator, David Vitter, is expected to introduce soon.
Media reports quote stakeholders saying the bill is “dead on arrival” even before Mr Vitter has released his proposals, he told the GlobalChem conference near Washington DC on Tuesday.
Mr Vitter, the lead Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is crafting legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seen by some as the chemical industry's alternative to the Safe Chemicals Act which Democrat senator Frank Lautenberg has pledged to reintroduce in the coming weeks. NGOs and some industry bodies have complained that Mr Vitter did not seek their input for his bill (CW 21 February 2013).
The ACC and its members are committed to making real progress on a bipartisan, federal legislative solution to TSCA reform, this year, said Mr Dooley, and he expects the Vitter bill to get bipartisan support. Asked how he expects the bill to get this, given that senator Vitter has not consulted NGOs or small companies, he said he expects the senator to talk to NGOs and other stakeholders at the appropriate time. ACC has not seen the draft of the bill that Mr Vitter's team is putting together, he says. “But “we think it provides a great opportunity for Democrats” to join us as co-sponsors of Mr Vitter’s bill.
Mr Vitter’s office has not yet sought input from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on TSCA reform, as senator Lautenberg did for his bill, said Jim Jones, acting administrator of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, but “I expect that when he is ready to ask us he will.” Mr Jones said all stakeholders - industry, NGOs and the EPA, agreed that any reform of TSCA needs to take a risk-based approach. But in order for it to take such an approach, the agency needs hazard and exposure data, which it currently lacks, and any reform of TSCA should give the agency a mandate to collect data for existing chemicals.
The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (Socma) has not yet been consulted by Mr Vitter’s office, says Socma ceo, Larry Sloan. But Mr Sloan hopes that “as the process unfolds”, Mr Vitter and his colleagues will “further engage” with SMEs, given “the resource constraints that many of our members face”. Socma is seeking protection of confidential business information with regard to pre-manufacturing notices (PMNs), “some mitigation” of safety standards and the concept of “zero risk” in the Lautenberg proposal.
The ACC will also “continue to be an active and constructive partner” in the EPA's efforts to strengthen and improve the current federal chemicals management system, said Mr Dooley, and that “we must also continue to demand that good science be the foundation of our chemical regulatory system.” The ACC is encouraged, he said, by the measures taken by the agency to “increase the transparency” of the Integrated Risk Information System (Iris) programme assessments and improve stakeholder engagement and input (CW 21 February 2013). “No doubt there is more work that needs to be done, and we hope that we can all continue to work together to strengthen the process for assessing chemicals.”
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Dinesh Kumar at GlobalChem