Midterm elections are not often regarded as significant triggers for policy change, but this past cycle of midterm elections may signal dramatic shifts in environmental and chemical policies. With the Democrats now in control of the House, advocates for environmental change will be pushing aggressively for new and more stringent legislation.
A main focus of the new Democratic House will be examining the President’s current stance on climate policies and encouraging the passage of new or stalled legislation. Environmental committees, such as the Natural Resources Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, plan to reevaluate the President’s policies and decisions. Specifically, one of the major items on the agenda is holding the Trump administration accountable as it plans to unwind major environmental programs that the EPA has adopted to combat air pollution and reduce climate change, such as the Clean Power Plan and the EPA’s methane rule. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Congress will pass broad national legislation targeted at climate change in 2019 given that the Republicans remain in control of the Senate. However, state-based environmental action is far more likely because of the number of governorships won by Democrats.
The EPA’s implementation of the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will also likely see changes following the midterm elections. The incoming Democratic chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone, announced his intention to hold a hearing to address the agency’s efforts under the revised TSCA. Pallone sponsored the 2016 bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Obama that revised the TSCA and prompted regulatory requirements that the EPA must satisfy. However, the framework for implementation of these rules has become the responsibility of the current Administration. The Trump Administration has faced intense criticism over its implementation of the amended law, particularly with respect to the EPA’s method for defining the uses that must be evaluated when determining a new chemical’s safety risk. Overall, the Trump White House has abolished 47 environmental regulations since its election – the Democrats are eager to have a voice now that they have secured power in the House.
Grimaldi Law Offices has been advising clients for over 20 years on chemical and product law. For knowledgeable advice and in-depth analysis on your chemical regulatory compliance obligations, contact Grimaldi Law Offices at (415) 463-5186 or email us at [email protected].