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November 10, 2011

Senate Committee Will Hold Hearing on TSCA Reform Legislation

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On November 17, 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Committee’s Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on legislation intended to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847). Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who introduced the legislation on April 14, 2011, and is Chair of the Subcommittee, will chair the hearing. The Safe Chemicals Act is intended to modernize TSCA to require chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate safety based on the best available science. More information is available in our April 18, 2011, memorandum online.

Since Lautenberg introduced the legislation in April, staff from his office and the office of James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, co-hosted several meetings with chemical trade associations and industry, as well as separate meetings with environmental organizations. The first meeting, held on June 21, 2011, focused on chemical safety standards. Other meeting topics included data requirements and prioritization approaches. A spokesperson for Inhofe stated that “substantial progress” was made during the meetings.

The November 17, 2011, hearing will be the first held on the Safe Chemicals Act. The participation of Inhofe’s office in the stakeholder meetings is significant and could indicate a possibility of a bipartisan agreement regarding TSCA reform in the Senate. The remarks of both Senators Lautenberg and Inhofe should provide some indication of whether real progress has been made on the many substantive issues surrounding past discussions of what any new TSCA program should contain. Even with substantial progress, however, the effective window for significant legislation of any kind is rapidly closing as jockeying for the next Presidential election is well underway.