President Obama Signs TSCA Reform into Law
Earlier this month, Congress passed legislation updating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with broad bipartisan support. As expected, President Obama signed the measure – formally known as the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – into law on Wednesday, representing the most significant environmental law to be adopted by the federal government in well over 20 years.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now required to create a transparent, risk-based prioritization process to determine exactly which chemicals need the most immediate review of their safety. Any chemical deemed to be a “high-priority” by EPA must then undergo an extensive health-based risk evaluation using sound and credible science. Depending on the outcome of this evaluation, EPA can decide if greater regulation of the chemical in question is warranted.
In exchange for greater federal oversight, the reform legislation preempts any conflicting state regulations, thereby minimizing the complicated patchwork of state regulations businesses have had to account for. States, however, will still be able to regulate chemicals under certain circumstances, namely to address risk left unaddressed by EPA or if the agency fails to regulate a chemical within three-and-a-half years of initiating a risk assessment.
Collectively, these facets of the new law provide EPA with tools to more effectively regulate chemicals that may be harmful to human health or the environment.
For more information, EPA has a summary of the new law as well as a slate of frequently asked questions. The ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force plans to update members on these new developments and the law’s impact on the states at the upcoming 43rd Annual Meeting.