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TSCA Letter

Letter to the House Environment & the Economy Subcommittee on the Toxic Substances Control Act

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June 12, 2013

 

The Honorable John Shimkus
Chairman
Environment and the Economy Subcommittee
United States House of Representatives
2452 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 The Honorable Paul Tonko
 Ranking Member
 Environment and the Economy Subcommittee
 United States House of Representatives
 2463 Rayburn House Office Building
 Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Shimkus and Representative Tonko:

On behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), we applaud the decision by the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy to convene a hearing aimed at understanding and examining issues surrounding the history and impact of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Efforts such as these will serve as key components of any attempt to update the statute, which NCSL believes is necessary to reflect the advances, since the law was enacted, in science and technology to better evaluate and regulate chemicals.

TSCA provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to require reporting, record-keeping and safety testing of chemical substances and mixtures. TSCA also gives EPA the power to restrict the use of certain chemicals. However, since TSCA was enacted in 1976, the science of testing chemicals and understanding their environmental or health impacts has considerably improved. In the absence of federal action to address issues related to TSCA implementation, many state legislatures have enacted legislation to regulate individual chemicals. States have also begun to develop comprehensive state chemical policies that aim to establish broad and permanent frameworks to systematically prioritize chemicals of concern, close data gaps on those chemicals and restrict their uses in those states.

NCSL encourages Congress to reform and modernize TSCA and at a minimum, NCSL believes proposed TSCA reform legislation should embody the elements outlined in NCSL’s Federal Chemical Policy Reform Policy Directive:

  • States Rights: State governments play a critical role in environmental regulation. For nearly all federal environmental statutes, there are provisions to extend the reach of the federal government by delegation of program authority and/or provision of federal grants to support state implementation of environmental requirements in lieu of or in addition to the federal requirements. Any reform of TSCA should preserve state rights to manage chemicals, and resources should be provided for state level implementation.

  • Act on the Harmful Chemicals First and Promote Safer Alternatives: Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs) are uniquely dangerous and should be phased out of commerce except for critical uses that lack viable alternatives. Exposure to other toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde, that have already been extensively studied should be reduced to the maximum extent feasible. Research into chemicals and chemical processes designed to reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts of chemicals should be expanded, and safer chemicals favored over those with known health hazards.

  • Ensure Broad Access to Mandatory Safety Data on All Chemicals: Chemical manufacturers should bear the burden of proof of safety of their products, and should be required to provide full information on the health hazards associated with their chemicals, how they are used, and the ways that the public or workers could be exposed. The public, workers, and businesses should have full access to such information.

  • Protect All People, and Vulnerable Groups, Using the Best Science: All chemicals should be assessed against a health standard that protects all people and the environment, especially the most vulnerable subpopulations, including children, low-income people, racial and ethnic minorities, workers, and pregnant women. EPA should adopt the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences for reforming risk assessment. Biomonitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be significantly expanded and used by EPA to assess the effects of pollution on people.

 
NCSL also has long standing policy on environmental federalism that recognizes the need to preserve and strengthen uniform minimum federal standards for environmental protection while maintaining statutory authority for states to enact state environmental standards that are more stringent than minimum federal standards.  While some congressional proposals create a preemption waiver process, concerns remain regarding its implementation.  
 
NCSL appreciates the opportunity to comment on the issues and implications surrounding TSCA and welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress to continue to move the conversation regarding TSCA modernization forward.  Please feel free to contact NCSL staff Ben Husch (202-624-7779 or ben.husch@ncsl.org) or Tamra Spielvogel (202-624-8690 or tamra.spielvogel@ncsl.org) for more information
 
Sincerely,
 

Representative John McCoy, Washington
Co-Chair, NCSL Environment Committee

Senator Ross Tolleson, Georgia
Co-Chair NCSL Environment Committee


CC: Members of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy
 
Attached:
NCSL Environmental Federalism Policy Directive
NCSL Federal Chemical Policy Reform Policy Directive

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