19 June 2013 11:40 [Source: ICIS news]
HELSINKI (ICIS)--The current bipartisan proposal to reform the US’s venerable Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) chemicals legislation is the first such bill to have a significant chance of passing into law, the vice president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum in Finland, ACC vice president Michael Walls said the current bipartisan bill, known as the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), is the first TSCA reform bill to have a strong chance of acceptance since the control act passed into law in 1976.
“[CSIA is] the first bipartisan proposal we have in the US to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act. It has 20 co-sponsors, both Republican and Democrat, and I believe it’s the first proposal that has a realistic chance of passing in the US Senate,” he said.
However, Walls conceded that strong partisan divisions in the US Senate at present can make it difficult to gauge the odds of any bill being derailed.
He added, “The US right now [has] a very complicated political environment... there is a lot of open water to cross. This bill has three of the top four Democratic leaders in the Senate as its co-sponsors, and yet we also know that this legislation has an uphill battle just in getting out of the committee of jurisdiction within our Senate.”
Carrying conditions that all chemicals would need to be screened for public and environmental safety, the bill is regarded in the industry as the first real opportunity to push modernisation measures for the TSCA through Congress.
Commenting on the disparities between other international policy measures intended to increase public and environmental safety, such as the European Commission’s substances of very high concern (SVHC) candidate list, Walls called for greater clarity on the reasons that particular chemicals are deemed to be of particular concern in different regions.
The present system can lead to confusion for companies attempting to anticipate which chemicals may end up on a candidate list, which could potentially lead to a decision to substitute a chemical with another material.
“It would be very helpful if governments were able to, if not harmonise the exact criteria by which they prioritise, at least identify why a given chemical is a priority for one government instead of another, and one region other than another, because that allows the industry to start allocating resources to answer some of those questions,” he said.
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