Toxic Substances Reform Creeps Closer

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Congress may finally pass reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act next week, American Chemistry Council lobbyist Rudy Underwood said here during a Tuesday morning session of the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Associations annual meeting.

The bill has broad, bipartisan support, Underwood explained, and has already passed in the House of Representatives. It is stalled in the Senate because of a proposed amendment. We feel very confident once it gets to the floor, that bill will pass pretty handily, he stated. Whether the bill comes to a vote next week or later, Underwood expects TSCA reform to be passed in 2015 with implementation closely following.

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TSCA is the primary law governing chemicals in the U.S. market, including components of many lubricants. The legislation, which is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, has remained unchanged since its passing in 1976. We have learned a lot about science and technology in 40 years, Underwood pointed out, adding that the U.S. is woefully behind in updating these federal regulations.

To try to fill the void, many state governments have moved to impose their own restrictions. According to Underwood, this year 20 states have introduced 72 pieces of legislation either banning or regulating specific chemicals. As the federal bill currently stands, state laws passed before Aug. 1, 2016, will remain on the books, while anything passed after that date will be preempted by the new federal regulations. Because of this, Underwood warned, there will likely be an uptick in legislative activity at the state level in early 2016. Even after Aug. 1, states will retain the power to regulate low priority chemicals.

Reform will enable stronger EPA regulation of chemicals in commerce using modern technology, enhanced cooperation between state governments and federal regulators, and were hoping it will stop some of the hodgepodge of regulations that is happening from state to state, Underwood concluded.

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