The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersy along with Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, is the most recently attempt to update our chemical management policy, the Toxic Substances Control Act. It is a bipartisan counterpart, or replacement, to the Safe Chemicals Act but does not include the same level of protection and could be a step in the wrong direction!
CSIA lacks key measures to ensure that the new chemical management policy is effective at protecting the public from exposure to chemicals of concern:
- It does not specifically include verbiage to address the protection of vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, children, workers, and environmental justice communities.
- A broad and vaguely written state pre-emption clause could have a potentially devastating impact on state-based chemical policies such as the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act and California’s Proposition 65.
- The bill does not include a hazard-based section giving the EPA ability to act quickly on the worst chemicals such as those that are persistent and bioaccumulative.
- Unlike the Safe Chemicals Act, CSIA does not set deadlines for required action, creating the possibility of stalemates on chemical regulation or restriction.
- Chemicals would be categorized as high or low priority, but the criteria for listing chemicals as “low priority” is vague. This generates concern that the EPA will be overwhelmed with recommendations for chemicals to be listed as “low priority” without sharing enough health and safety information about the impacts of exposure.
This seemingly tripartite effort of Republicans, Democrats, and the American Chemistry Council fails to correct many existing flaws of TSCA. MBCC cannot support this version of the bill unless the common sense amendments and protections listed above are added.