Bipartisan legislation to finally overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act has overwhelmingly passed the House and soon heads to the Senate

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill to revamp the nearly 40-year-old law that governs America’s chemicals policy, known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), on 23 June. Although TSCA reform has been a divisive and controversial topic in Congress, the legislation overwhelmingly passed with a vote of 398 to 1 with chemical industry groups applauding the development.

The American Chemistry Council’s president and chief executive, Cal Dooley, said the legislation will ‘build confidence’ in the US chemical regulatory system, protect human health and the environment, and address the commercial and competitive needs of industry. The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates and the National Association of Chemical Distributors issued similar messages.

The bill would provide the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with more authority to take regulatory action on chemicals by removing the current requirement that the agency choose the ‘least burdensome’ path after determining that a chemical poses an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. The legislation would also require that the EPA initiate 10 or more chemical risk evaluations each fiscal year.

A Senate version of the bill is expected to be voted on in July. Senator Barbara Boxer, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has reached out to Congressman John Shimkus – the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on the environment and the economy – and offered to work with him as the bill progresses. Boxer told Shimkus that because of ‘the clarity, simplicity, and overwhelming bipartisan support’ in the House for his legislation, she would push for the Senate to take up his bill with a few ‘perfecting amendments.’