US EPA is apparently working with Congress, members of the public, the environmental community, and the chemical industry to reauthorize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Obama Administration wants to modernize TSCA to increase confidence that chemicals used in commerce, which are vital to our Nation’s economy, are safe and do not endanger the public health and welfare of consumers, workers, and especially sensitive sub-populations such as children, or the environment.
EPA recently announced certain Guiding Principles that it will apply in the fight to update TSCA.
Principle No. 1: Chemicals should be reviewed against safety standards that are based on sound science and reflect risk-based criteria protective of human health and the environment.
Principle No. 2: Manufacturers should provide EPA with the necessary information to conclude that new and existing chemicals are safe and do not endanger public health or the environment.
Principle No. 3: Risk Management decisions should take into account sensitive subpopulations, cost, availability of substitutes and other relevant considerations.
Principle No. 4: Manufacturers and EPA should assess and act on priority chemicals, both existing and new, in a timely manner.
Principle No. 5: Green Chemistry should be encouraged and provisions assuring transparency and public access to information should be strengthened.
Principle No. 6: EPA should be given a sustained source of funding for implementation of TSCA.
My read on all of this is that EPA is going to be fighting a Titanic uphill battle with lobbyists, politicians, and PAC money from the chemical industry. In the end, the public will receive a water-downed program that is under funded and understaffed that is therefore inherently incapable of doing what TSCA was intended to do.