Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
With two proposals to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) now, more or less, on the streets, and with some time to contemplate what course reform efforts might follow, it is important to consider what it will take to actually pass legislation into law.
Regardless of what happens in the elections this November, the only viable path forward I see is a strongly bipartisan one. The negotiations over the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) during the past year and a half have broken through some longstanding impasses. As I’ve noted earlier, EDF believes the Udall-Vitter proposal (which does not resolve the difficult issue of preemption) fixes the key flaws in current TSCA – and does so in ways that both Democrats and Republicans can support.
Chairman Boxer has publicly released her own substantive reform proposal, in the form of a redline of the Udall-Vitter proposal. In doing so, she raises important issues that, in addition to preemption, need to be addressed. Some of her proposals seem relatively easy to reconcile with Udall-Vitter, and some do not. For the record, the latter include a number of provisions EDF has supported.
With respect to federal policy and EPA authority, both the Udall-Vitter and Boxer proposals would dramatically improve upon current law and would have a strong, positive impact on the health of the nation’s people and environment.
With two strong proposals on the table, I believe the conversation we need to be having now is how we get to a bill that can pass into law in a sharply divided Congress. That’s because, to say it again, no matter what happens in November, this is going to need to be a bipartisan effort. I remain confident we can address the failings of TSCA through provisions that can earn broad support.
Let me say up front that I believe any attempt to return to original CSIA as a result of a breakdown in negotiations would certainly be a step in the wrong direction and away from a bipartisan path forward. Equally problematic would be a return to the Safe Chemicals Act, which failed to gain bipartisan support.
In the remainder of this post, I'll take a look at the Boxer proposal.