New administration framework for Chemical Management Reform
In a speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced core principles that outline the Obama Administration's goals for legislative reform of this country's chemical management law, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, TSCA. In parallel with this legislative initiative, Administrator Jackson also announced plans for a major effort to strengthen EPA's current chemical management program and increase the pace of the agency's efforts to address chemicals that pose a risk to the public.
In her remarks at the Commonwealth Club, Administrator Jackson said:
“...as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused. Many are turning to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks haven't been ignored.
Our oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act....over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it's supposed to regulate - it's been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.
Today I'm announcing clear Administration principles to guide Congress in writing a new chemical risk management law that will fix the weaknesses in TSCA.”
A copy of Administrator Jackson's remarks as prepared for delivery can be found online at epa.gov/newsroom.
With the leadership of Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg and Representatives Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush, legislation strengthening TSCA is expected to be introduced shortly. The Obama Administration's “Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation” are intended to aid Congress during the legislative process. The principles, listed below, present the administration's goals for legislation that will give EPA the mechanisms and authorities to expeditiously target chemicals of concern and promptly assess and regulate new and existing chemicals in commerce:
• Chemicals should be reviewed against risk-based safety standards based on sound science and protective of human health and the environment
• Manufacturers should provide EPA with the necessary information to conclude that new and existing chemicals are safe and do not endanger public health or the environment
• EPA should have clear authority to take risk management actions when chemicals do not meet the safety standard, with flexibility to take into account sensitive subpopulations, costs, social benefits, equity and other relevant considerations.
• Manufacturers and EPA should assess and act on priority chemicals, both existing and new, in a timely manner
• Green Chemistry should be encouraged and provisions assuring Transparency and Public Access to Information should be strengthened.
• EPAshould be given a sustained source of funding for implementation