Senators Whitehouse, Lautenberg Call for Action on Chemicals of Concern
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to conclude its nearly 500-day review of a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule listing chemicals that may pose hazards to the public’s health. The Senators want to ensure that the EPA exercises the limited authority provided by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) while the Senators continue working to reform and improve the law.
“As Congress works toward reforms of the law, it is important that EPA is allowed to fully utilize its current authorities under TSCA to provide the public with information on chemicals that might pose unreasonable risk,” the Senators wrote.
Senator Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” to reform TSCA. The bill would require safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and put the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order to get on or stay on the market. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Whitehouse, who chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight.
The letter can be seen here and the text of the letter is below.
September 9, 2011
Mr. Cass Sunstein, Administrator
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Office of Management and Budget
Washington, D.C. 20503
Dear Mr. Sunstein:
We write to ask you to conclude your review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rule listing chemicals of concern under section 5(b)(4) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA sent the proposed rule to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review on May 12, 2010, nearly 500 days ago and well beyond the 90 days authorized for OIRA review. We urge you to end this delay and allow EPA to propose the rule, which will still provide the public and the regulated community with the opportunity to comment on its merits before it is finalized.
TSCA was signed into law in 1976 in order to address the public health risks posed by some chemicals. Unfortunately, flaws in the statute have prevented EPA from taking even modest steps to collect adequate data on chemical risks or to appropriately manage those risks. The Obama Administration has been clear that it shares our goal of modernizing TSCA to ensure effective and efficient management of risks from chemical substances.
However, as Congress works toward reforms of the law, it is important that EPA is allowed to fully utilize its current authorities under TSCA to provide the public with information on chemicals that might pose unreasonable risk. TSCA clearly provides that authority in Section 5(b)(4), which states, “The Administrator may, by rule, compile and keep current a list of chemical substances with respect to which the Administrator finds that the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal, or any combination of such activities, presents or may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.”
EPA’s scientists have concluded that the substances on its proposed chemicals of concern list could pose such risks. Other governments have reached similar conclusions. Furthermore, data from the Centers for Disease Control show that these substances are found in the bodies of most Americans. With EPA’s ability to actually reduce risk from chemicals severely constrained by TSCA, the agency should be permitted to take the modest step of signaling its concern about these chemicals to the public and the market.
Senators Lautenberg, Whitehouse
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