Landmark Chemical Reform Legislation Approved by House of Representatives
July 7, 2015
On June 23, 2015, by a vote of 398-1, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (HR 2576), a landmark bill that would significantly change the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The measure provides a 21st century regulatory infrastructure for chemical in commerce and provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with tools to manage these thousands of chemicals while protecting consumers. In addition, H.R. 2576 would preempt states from taking further regulatory action on a chemical beyond action taken by the EPA, an important protection against the possibility of facing 50 different state regulatory systems.
The House legislation takes a narrower approach than a competing bill in the Senate, but it brings Congress another step closer to making TSCA reform a reality. The Senate will now either take up the House bill or take up its own bill, S. 697 by Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
One key difference is the House bill would leave intact the current system for screening new chemicals. Currently, unless EPA can prove new chemicals are unsafe within a 90-day review period, new substances can generally go on the market. The Senate bill, by contrast, would generally bar new chemicals from entering the market until EPA signed off on their safety.
Other provisions that are in the Senate bill but not the House bill include:
- Directs EPA to sort chemicals into high- and low-priority categories.
- Requires the agency and companies consider using nonanimal forms of toxicity testing when possible.
- Sets up a federal green chemistry research and development program.
Lawmakers in both chambers have expressed hope they can finish TSCA reform this year.