TSCA Modernization Bill Signed Into Law
President Obama signed a bipartisan bill on Tuesday to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the first major update in 20 years to federal regulations governing chemicals found throughout daily life.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act passed the House last month by a bipartisan vote of 403 to 12. It updates TSCA regulations that made it difficult for the government to regulate certain chemicals. The updates create a system for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate and manage risks associated with chemicals on the market and sets deadlines for it to take action, and provides limited preemption of state laws. The EPA’s evaluations of chemicals will be based solely on the health risks they represent, including to vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and workers who use them on the job. The law also provides funding for the EPA’s new responsibilities.
New restrictions had not been implemented for chemicals under TSCA regulation for several years, and states have taken action in a piecemeal fashion. The new bill drew the chemical industry’s support to avoid having to comply with varied state regulations. However, existing state regulations are grandfathered, and the bill gives states the opportunity to pass their own rules and apply to the EPA for a waiver on a chemical’s TSCA regulation.