US chem leader calls for speedy reform of toxic substances act

22 March 2011 14:50  [Source: ICIS news]

Joint session of US CongressBALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS)--Congress must pass legislation to modernise and reform US regulation of chemicals in commerce, but it should do so in a way that will allow the chemicals industry to continue to innovate and grow, Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the opening day of the annual GlobalChem regulatory conference, Dooley said that in the absence of congressional reform of the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), state and local governments are enacting their own, widely different regulatory programmes governing chemicals.

As a consequence, Dooley said, “We are facing a regulatory landscape that is becoming increasingly complex due to the lack of TSCA reform”.

Congress was expected to again take up efforts to modernise the law, which has not been substantively amended since being enacted in 1976. 

Efforts to revise and reform TSCA in the 111th Congress (2009-2010) made little headway, largely because of wide differences among industry leaders and environmentalists and their respective champions on Capitol Hill.

Some industry officials contend that the current 112th Congress also was unlikely to complete work this year or next on the complex TSCA reform task, and that the issue would not likely be resolved until the 113th Congress convenes in 2013.

Dooley argued that progress on revising the principal US statute regulating chemicals in commerce must be made if the chemicals industry was to meet the challenges of a growing global population and increasing demand for food production, medical breakthroughs and other lifestyle advances.

“But we must have a regulatory framework that allows our industry to innovate and to grow here in the US,” Dooley said, adding: “Sound science must be the foundation on which TSCA is reformed.”

He said that the council supports efforts being made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use existing authority under TSCA to continue to manage chemicals in commerce.

Dooley in particular cited the agency’s developing new requirements for Inventory Update Reporting (IUR), which were announced by EPA in August last year and are due to be issued in final form within months.

The new IUR requirements will substantially lower the threshold reporting criteria for chemical emissions at production sites, impose more strict capture and control standards and sharply reduce the amount of product data that chemical manufacturers may withhold from disclosure as critical business information (CBI).

Dooley was critical of the EPA’s ongoing development of the new IUR requirements, saying that while the agency has been receptive to comments by industry, it has shed little light on how the rules are taking shape.

“We must ensure that there is greater transparency in EPA’s operations,” Dooley said.  “We are still largely in the dark about what the final IUR will require, and the new regulations are only a few months away.”

He said Congress and TSCA stakeholders do have something to learn from other nations’ regulatory reforms, citing Canada and the European Union (EU).

But he cautioned against copying elements of the EU’s programme for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH), saying that while the high costs of REACH compliance are already known, its real impact on industry and innovation has not yet been demonstrated.

“REACH is still in its infancy, and we cannot be stampeded into the notion that we have fallen behind Europe in modern regulation of chemicals,” he said.

GlobalChem is cosponsored by ACC and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA). The conference runs through Wednesday.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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