TSCA reform advocates to ACC: Give us something to work with!

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

An article just out in Chemical Week by senior editor Kara Sissel simply nails it in describing the state of affairs on TSCA reform as it played out at last week’s GlobalChem conference.

The captions under the side-by-side photos of American Chemistry Council (ACC) President Cal Dooley and yours truly tell it all.  Mr. Dooley laments the increasingly complex and unpredictable regulatory landscape that finally drove ACC to shift away from its longstanding opposition to TSCA reform.  But my plea that it is long past time for ACC to come forward with its own specific proposals for that reform speaks to where things have been stuck for much of the past year. 

Those of us who have long been pressing for reform are having an increasingly hard time understanding how ACC can still be saying with a straight face that it’s for reform when it hasn’t put a single constructive proposal on the table since first signaling its support for reform over two years ago, and then issuing its TSCA “modernization” principles more than 18 months ago.

In the last Congress, ACC’s reason for not talking turkey was its desire to avoid lending any forward momentum to the reform bills that had been introduced in both Houses.  Instead, ACC decided to run out the clock, presumably based on its expectation of a more receptive new Congress after the midterm elections.

This year, ACC’s reason for not talking turkey is less obvious.  A divided and presumably more industry-friendly Congress is seated.  And all the dynamics that drove it to the table – state-by-state action filling the void at the federal level, “retail regulation” in the marketplace,  implementation of comprehensive reform in other parts of the world – are still in place; indeed, if anything, they’re ramping up.

It surely isn’t for any lack of overtures from we advocates indicating our willingness to talk and seek middle ground.  As I noted in an earlier post, we even took the step of offering free lunch to GlobalChem attendees willing to listen for an hour to our proposals for TSCA reform, after we were passed over inclusion in the TSCA modernization panel at the industry’s big annual shindig.

Let me not paint with too broad a brush here:  Other trade groups and several ACC member companies have reciprocated our offers, and have both indicated and demonstrated their interest in seriously engaging in substantive efforts toward finding a path forward on TSCA reform.

I’ll say again here what I said in the Chemical Week article:  We recognize the need to find something that all parties can “live with,” but without specific proposals from the chemical industry, it will be hard to move forward.

And as long as things aren’t moving forward, the chemical industry can only expect more of the same:  More states and more companies downstream of the chemical industry acting on their own, and more foreign governments and companies getting out ahead of ours in delivering chemicals and products the safety of which the world’s consumers can have confidence in.

Time’s a-wasting.

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