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Bipartisan support critical for US House TSCA reform bill

The passage this year of the US House of Representatives' draft bill, the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA), to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act will depend on “growth in bipartisan” support for the legislation, according to a staff member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Speaking during a panel session on TSCA reform, David McCarthy, a key staffer for the House, said that TSCA reform legislation could still progress this year, even if Congress has not voted on it by June or July. As it is an election year, there have been concerns that any progress would have to wait until 2015 if a vote is not taken in the first half of this year.

Panelists expressed optimism that TSCA reform could be achieved this year. Connie Deford, director of product sustainability at Dow, said, “we are convinced it can happen this year.” She added it was important because the public’s confidence in the chemical industry continues to decline. 

According to Mr McCarthy, House Republicans were not indifferent to the role of states in protecting the environment as they crafted the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA) (CW 28 February 2014) . He said in the preemption portions of CICA “we have struck a balance” between respecting the roles of the states and the US at federal level.

The measure “preserves state chemical laws, including Proposition 65, but only up to the point where the EPA has made a decision on an individual chemical,” Mr McCarthy said. TSCA reform is not a partisan issue in Congress, he added.

Comparing the provisions of the House bill and the Senate’s Chemical Safety Improvement Act, Mark Duvall, partner at the law firm Beveridge & Diamond, said no matter what the language in the TSCA reform bills, states will continue to play a big role in chemical management.

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