On February 27, 2014, House Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) released a discussion draft of a TSCA reform bill, the Chemicals in Commerce Act. The draft keys off the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (S. 1009), a bipartisan Senate TSCA modernization bill introduced last year. With industry and non-governmental organizations already taking well-trodden sides, the new draft legislation offers as much controversy as compromise.
The draft legislation’s dual objectives are to improve public confidence in the safety of chemicals and to facilitate interstate commerce. The two goals are illustrated in what likely will be one of the most controversial provisions: preemption of state chemical laws. The Chemicals in Commerce Act discussion draft prohibits states from regulating a chemical substance, mixture or article when EPA already is regulating that substance, mixture or article, or when EPA has made a determination regarding the risk of harm to human health or the environment. Such broad preemption would facilitate interstate commerce and makes sense for innovation: industry compliance with a multitude of state chemical laws poses extraordinary challenges, creating competitive disadvantages, disincentivizing innovation by generating regulatory uncertainty, ultimately driving up costs to consumers — and not necessarily with clear benefits to human health and the environment. That same preemption language has NGOs up in arms, with individual states likely following suit soon.
The draft Chemicals in Commerce Act is found at https://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/analysis/CICADD.pdf. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy is anticipated to hold two meetings in March and a bill may be introduced in April.