The US Senate and House set to pass the Toxic Substances Control Act

The US Senate and House are yesterday reached an agreement on an overhaul of US chemical safety laws, which will update the 30-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act.

Overall, the bill gives the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to immediately begin a risk evaluation of any chemical it designates as high priory.

The new TSCA rewrite would require the EPA to restrict the use of any chemical that the agency finds to present an unreasonable risk. This is phenomenally constructive and optimistic progress, and if the bill is passed, then the EPA will be empowered to act in the best interests of the society and the planet. 

In addition, the measure also authorises the EPA to conduct testing to determine whether a chemical should be a high priority for a safety review. Decisions made by the EPA will pre-empt existing and future state laws to restrict chemicals, in order to create uniform regulations. Yet, the agreement also specifies that if the EPA fails to follow through with plans to regulate a chemical within a three-and-a-half year period, then states are free to act. 

For many, this bill is a significant improvement over the 2013 version that was according to journalist Andy Igrejas, essentially a deal between the American Chemistry Council and the Environmental Defense Fund. 

The proposal is expected to pass both chambers of Congress imminently, and head to President Obama’s desk for signing before the end of the month.

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