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February 7, 2014

House Energy And Commerce Subcommittee Holds Fifth Hearing On TSCA Reform


On February 4, 2014, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held its fifth hearing this term on potential reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). The Subcommittee is working on drafting its version of a TSCA reform bill. This latest hearing focused on potential reforms to Sections 4 and 8 of the law. TSCA Section 4 covers when and under what circumstances the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may require chemical substances to be tested, and TSCA Section 8 authorizes EPA to keep an inventory of potentially harmful chemicals.

Seven witnesses representing the gamut of stakeholders — from the chemical and healthcare industries to environmental groups — testified at the hearing. Generally, chemical industry stakeholders stressed the need for any new TSCA requirements on industry to be limited in scope and focused on the most harmful chemicals. On the other hand, environmental stakeholders urged the expansion of EPA authority to require chemical testing, among other things.

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. has issued a comprehensive summary and commentary on the hearing, which is available online. There is a renewed sense of urgency for TSCA reform to be completed this year in the wake of the chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia last month, and the recent announcements that House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring this year and that Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is running for the Governor of Louisiana. Representative Waxman is a champion of environmental issues and may view accomplishing TSCA reform important before he leaves, especially since it appears unlikely that a bill to address climate change — one of his most passionate issues — will pass this year. Senator Vitter is the co-sponsor of the Senate's bi-partisan TSCA reform bill, S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA).