Industries join to push risk-based US chemicals control law

23 March 2009 21:00  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--A multi-industry coalition soon will issue guidelines it hopes Congress will follow in modernising the principal US chemicals management law as a risk-based system, an industry leader said on Monday.

Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), said that he and other chemical industry leaders are reasonably confident that Congress will maintain US substance control regulation on a risk basis, rather than on the precautionary system that underlies the new European chemicals control regime.

Speaking in a teleconference with reporters, Dooley said that a broad-based coalition made up of chemical sector representatives along with upstream and downstream industries is working to define a set of principles for reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

TSCA has not been substantially revised since it was first enacted 33 years ago, and there are plans by some in Congress to reshape that statute as a US version of the EU’s registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach).

Dooley said the coalition seeking reform and renewal of TSCA as a risk-based regulatory programme is co-chaired by ACC and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

“The coalition is broad-based and includes upstream and downstream industries, such as the Soap and Detergents Association [SDA],” Dooley said, adding that the coalition’s representatives meet on a regular basis.

Asked whether he is confident that US industry can convince Congress to maintain TSCA as a risk-based rather than precautionary programme, Dooley said: “Yes, I think we are reasonably certain that Congress will understand and maintain a science-based, risk-based approach to evaluating the safety of chemicals.”

“Certainly this is a very high priority for the industry,” Dooley said.

He said that some consumer interest groups have expressed support for a risk-based revision of TSCA and that the coalition is reaching out to nongovernment organisations (NGOs) such as environmental groups to enlist their support for a risk-based approach.

However, in congressional testimony last month, environmental and labour groups urged legislators to adopt Reach-like principles in revising the 1976 TSCA.

Dooley said the coalition is “moving aggressively to ensure policymakers in Congress and the administration, and especially in the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] clearly understand how the industry thinks you could most effectively modernise TSCA”.

While he noted that no one but Congress can set its agenda or timeline, Dooley said he hopes to see a successful revision of TSCA before the end of this year.

He said that the set of broad principles meant to guide congressional reform of TSCA should be completed in a few weeks and likely will be followed by a more detailed outline of modernisation measures legislators could adopt without undermining the risk-based approach of the existing statute and regulations.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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