Legislative Update – Senate Committee Approves Safe Chemicals Act

Last week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved S. 847, the Safe Chemicals Act, on a party-line vote of 10-8. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by resetting the TSCA inventory, requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to batch chemicals into groups and evaluate them in order of risk priority based on existing information, and requiring chemical manufacturers and processors to provide additional information to EPA. The Committee’s decision to hold a vote on the Safe Chemicals Act was a disappointment to NACD and others in the industry. In mid-June, Senator Lautenberg and Senator David Vitter (R-LA) began discussions on a new approach to TSCA reform in an effort to gain bipartisan and industry support.

Following the vote, NACD President Chris Jahn said, “NACD is disappointed that the EPW Committee decided to hold a vote on the Safe Chemicals Act before the bipartisan TSCA modernization discussions between Senator Lautenberg and the group of Republican Senators led by Senator Vitter were provided adequate opportunity to achieve results. Chemical distributors have a unique and critical role in the chemical supply chain, and NACD remains committed to TCSA modernization that will protect health and safety, allow for continued industry innovation in the critical chemical and manufacturing sectors, and increase public confidence in our nation’s chemical management system at the national level. We encourage Senators to resume negotiations and work towards a workable, bipartisan solution that will achieve these objectives.”

Given the controversial nature of S. 847 and the limited time remaining on the legislative calendar for 2012, the outlook for Senate floor consideration of the bill is questionable. Click here for an analysis of the bill from NACD Environmental Regulatory Partner Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. Click here for an archived webcast of the EPW Committee session.