Shimkus Releases Draft TSCA Reform Bill
On February 27, 2014, House Energy and Commerce Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chair John Shimkus (R-IL) released a discussion draft of the "Chemicals in Commerce Act" (CICA), legislation designed to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). The release of CICA is significant for several reasons. While the House Subcommittee has held five hearings since last year on various sections of TSCA, CICA would be the first major House bill introduced this Congress to reform the law. In addition, CICA "keys off" S. 1009, The "Chemical Safety Improvement Act" (CSIA), which is the bi-partisan Senate TSCA reform bill introduced last May by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Although time for passing legislation this year is passing quickly, increased efforts in the Senate and now in the House to pass a TSCA reform bill also increase the chances that TSCA reform could move forward and pass this year.
In recent weeks, Senator Vitter, who has been leading Senate efforts to pass TSCA reform with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), has made public statements suggesting that a revised version of CSIA could be made public very soon. Senators Vitter and Udall have been working to revise the Senate legislation to address concerns with it expressed by environmental groups, among others. For instance, some are concerned that the bill would pre-empt and weaken existing strong state chemical safety laws and would not go far enough to protect vulnerable populations. While CICA does include provisions addressing these concerns and others, some environmental groups have already come out against it, and believe it does not go far enough.
It has been reported that Shimkus expects to hold a hearing on CICA this month and hopes that a markup will be held on the bill sometime in April. The legislation could be considered by the full House of Representatives as early as May. As aforementioned, the numbers of days to pass legislation in this mid-term election year are relatively few. While there is clear momentum in the House and Senate, final passage of TSCA reform, while possible, could be challenging this year.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) issued a detailed summary and analysis of CICA, which is available online.
A copy of the 91-page CICA is available online. A copy of the Subcommittee's seven page "Highlights" is available online, and a copy of the Subcommittee's brief summary of the legislation is available online.