Monthly Archives: November 2010

Irresponsible Care: ACC seeks an exception to swallow the IUR Rule

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

I noted in an earlier post that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) is seeking major delays in the implementation of enhanced chemical information reporting requirements that EPA has proposed under its TSCA Inventory Update Rule (IUR).  But ACC isn’t content with just delaying the enhanced reporting.  It’s also seeking an exemption so large that it literally threatens to swallow much of the rule.

The proposed exemption is called for in a footnote on page 2 of the comments ACC filed on the proposed rule:  “Exemptions should be provided for any company engaged in an acquisition or divestiture during the years since the last reporting cycle.”

Just how large an exemption would that be?  Read More »

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A healthy state of affairs: U.S. states do the public’s bidding by acting to control dangerous chemicals, even as Washington fiddles

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist and Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

A new report documents that state-level legislation to control toxic chemicals adopted over the past eight years has passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The report also highlights that both the pace of adoption and the scope of such legislation have grown significantly – a trend expected to continue until Congress enacts meaningful, comprehensive reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The report, Healthy States: Protecting Families While Congress Lags Behind, was released today by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Safer States, a coalition of state-level organizations working for chemicals policy reform.  The report analyzes 71 chemical safety laws that were adopted between 2003 and 2010 in 18 states encompassing 41% of the U.S. population.  The state laws enacted broadly fell into two categories:  those that place restrictions on individual dangerous chemicals, and those that embrace more comprehensive chemical policies.

The report’s main finding is that these laws passed with overwhelming support – and that support was strongly bipartisan:

  • Of more than 9,000 roll call votes cast, 89% favored the legislation, outnumbering opposing votes by more than 8 to 1.
  • Nearly three-quarters of Republican legislators (73%) voted in favor of the legislation, as well as nearly all Democrats (99%).
  • Ten Republican governors and 12 Democratic governors signed these bills into law.

What we find most remarkable about these new numbers is that they mirror almost exactly the views of the American electorate.  Read More »

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Data and safety requirements for new chemicals: China blows past the US

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

In yesterday’s post, I pointed to a number of ways in which China is taking a proactive stance on chemical safety.  I cited China because the U.S. chemical industry, when saber-rattling about what it regards as overly onerous proposals for TSCA reform, loves to chide all of us that those proposals will drive chemical production overseas to China and that innovation of new chemicals will still happen, only it will happen in China instead of the U.S.

I mentioned yesterday that China is in the process of enhancing its regulatory requirements, including making them more like the European Union’s REACH Regulation.  Well, a great article detailing China’s new requirements for new chemicals was published yesterday by Geraint Roberts in Chemical Watch’s Monthly Briefing for November (subscription required).

Those requirements – which actually took effect October 15 – include the very same elements the U.S. industry has been warning would send chemical production and innovation running to China if they were to be adopted in the U.S., including:

  • registration as well as notification requirements for all new chemicals, whatever their production volume;
  • a minimum data set, which increases with production volume;
  • a requirement for re-notification whenever production volume increases significantly or the uses of a chemical change or expand; and
  • risk assessments for all new chemicals produced or imported above one metric ton per year.

Next up for the Chinese?  Similar requirements for existing chemicals, according to the article.

So much for the chemical industry’s hand-wringing about us losing out to China. When it comes to raising the bar for chemical safety, it appears the U.S. is increasingly the odd one out.

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Adding a hammer to TSCA’s tool belt: Clear deadlines and, yes, hammers to ensure they’re met, are essential to TSCA reform

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

For decades, the American chemical industry has produced and used chemicals virtually without condition, due to the laissez-faire approach embodied in TSCA.  The consequence?  Tens of thousands of chemicals are in everyday use with little health and environmental data, let alone evidence of their safety.  This has led to a crisis in confidence among commercial buyers, users and sellers of chemicals and products made using chemicals – not to mention consumers, state and local government and the general public.

Meaningful TSCA reform must address these problems, by not only systematically subjecting chemicals on the market to data requirements and safety determinations – but also ensuring all this is done in an efficient and timely manner.

That’s where hammers come in.  Read More »

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Reporting deferred is right-to-know denied: ACC seeks major delays in EPA chemical reporting program

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist. Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

Well, in its comments on EPA’s proposed rule to enhance chemical information reporting under the TSCA Inventory Update Rule (IUR), it took the American Chemistry Council (ACC) all of 5 paragraphs to get through the lip service it no doubt felt it had to pay to supporting EPA’s proposals “in principle,” and then proceed to devote 31 pages to arguments opposing virtually every element of EPA’s proposals.

Cunningly on its part, ACC’s arguments often do not oppose outright the EPA proposals.  Rather, it seeks to put off their implementation for as long as possible.  EPA’s proposed rule calls for reporting in 2011 that would provide information for years 2006 and forward.  In contrast, ACC would have EPA put off implementation of all of its proposed IUR enhancements, with the result that both EPA and the public would not get any of the additional information until at least 2015.

Like we said in the title of this post:  Reporting deferred is right-to-know denied.

We’ll be posting more about ACC’s comments in the coming weeks, but in this post, we’ll consider the core argument ACC makes for deferral:  that “the business of chemistry is product-focused, not substance focused.”  ACC would have us believe their member companies don’t know what chemicals are in any of the products (i.e., mixtures of chemicals) they make and sell.

This argument warrants – ahem – additional scrutiny.  Read More »

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