The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) issued a statement to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works supporting the evaluation of national chemical-control laws but specifically opposing the Safe Chemicals Act, which was introduced earlier this year by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Lautenberg had initially introduced the legislation in 2010 but re-introduced the bill in April 2011 following some changes, including a plan for risk prioritization. The bill seeks to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA was enacted in 1976 to provide the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with authority to require reporting, recordkeeping, testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances or mixtures. The Senate bill seeks to address EPA's limitations in exercising its authority and implementing measures under TSCA. A summary of the bill, introduced in April 2011, may be found here.
SOCMA issued its statement as part of a jointly held legislative hearing on TSCA before the full Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health, chaired by Lautenberg. "The bottom line is this: this legislation establishes a strong, but practical system for guaranteeing the safety of chemicals, many of which end up in our bodies and the bodies of our children," said Lautenberg in a Nov. 17, 2011, statement. "And we remain open to other ways of achieving our shared goal of a system that improves safety and encourages continued innovation and growth in the chemical industry. But we must act on this issue soon."
Although SOCMA concurs with modernizing measures under TSCA, it opposes specific measures in the proposed legislation. "There is broad stakeholder agreement that TSCA needs to be modernized, but the Safe Chemicals Act is not workable,” said SOCMA President Lawrence D. Sloan, in a Nov. 17, 2011 SOCMA press release. "It fails to adequately consider its impact on innovation or balance chemical safety with continued manufacturing in the US. Ultimately, the Safe Chemicals Act will have to consider how the costs and delays associated with increased data submission will impact US jobs. Right now, there has been insufficient discussion about this important issue."
In its statement, SOCMA stressed that EPA’s current new chemicals program be maintained. It also raised concerns regarding data submissions for new chemicals. "....The minimum data set requirement is a one-size-fits-all approach that is unnecessary and would result in delays in getting low-risk chemicals to market," said SOCMA in its statement. “The Committee and Subcommittee should look closely at EPA’s protective modeling tools, which have proven to be highly predictive of risk, along with some of EPA’s recent enhancements to its existing chemicals program. The Committee and Subcommittee should also seek to understand how much health effects data the Agency already has in its files and the amount of data maintained elsewhere that EPA can leverage." SOCMA also voiced is disagreement with the bill’s prioritization process.
"SOCMA appreciates the continued effort to keep this issue on the forefront, but remains concerned by widespread misinformation being a driver," it said in its press release. "In order for a bipartisan bill to advance, Congress should avoid dismantling the aspects of TSCA that have worked well."
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