ACC lauds US EPA’s withdrawal of two proposed TSCA rules

07 September 2013 00:04  [Source: ICIS news]

ston HOUSTON (ICIS)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) praised a move on Friday by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw two rules the agency had proposed under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The EPA threw out a proposal to label bisphenol A (BPA), certain phthalates and some polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) as “chemicals of concern” that would be require additional scrutiny.

"We strongly support the agency's decision to withdraw these proposals and commend EPA for choosing a course of action that will ultimately strengthen the performance of the nation's primary chemical management law, the Toxic Substances Control Act,” the ACC said in a news release. “The proposals were rendered unnecessary when EPA wisely chose to adopt a better approach for prioritising chemicals and reviewing claims for confidential chemical information under TSCA.”

Reaction from environmental groups was rather muted late on Friday afternoon, although some spokespersons did lament the EPA backing down from the proposed regulations.

Also, the agency decided to not further pursue clarification of what falls under the terms of “confidential business information” (CBI). The ACC said the proposed rule was detrimental to current efforts underway between industry and the EPA to better address the issue.

"The agency made the right decision to withdraw its proposal to deny protection for some categories of confidential business information, particularly in light of the substantial progress EPA has made via its partnership with industry through the CBI Declassification Challenge programme, and its efforts to require greater upfront substantiation of CBI claims,” the ACC said.

“These combined actions will help improve publicly available information about chemicals reported under TSCA, while still protecting critical intellectual property and other proprietary information which is vital to the development of new chemistries in the US,” the organisation added.

The TSCA and efforts to reform it have been the subject of some controversy this year.

In mid-May, eight Senate Republicans and eight Democrats announced a compromise TSCA modernisation bill called the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act” (CSIA) S-1009, which was put together chiefly by Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey.

Also known as the Lautenberg-Vitter bill, the measure was widely welcomed by many in the US chemicals industry and among environmentalists.

On introducing the bill, Lautenberg and Vitter said the CSIA would for the first time ensure that all chemicals are screened for safety “while also creating an environment where manufacturers can continue to innovate, grow and create jobs”. Lautenberg died just weeks after the bill was introduced.

Among many other elements, the CSIA would pre-empt any state laws that conflict with the federal measure, and it is that feature in particular that has earned the ire of Senator Barbara Boxer.

Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has been reported to be adamantly opposed to the Lautenberg-Vitter bill, charging that it would usurp California’s own rules on chemicals in commerce.

Boxer’s committee has held hearings on the CSIA, and its current status is in limbo.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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