Government, NGOs, and industry gather for EPA TSCA New Chemicals Review Meeting

Joanna Slaney is the Legislative Director for EDF Health.

[UPDATE 1/17/17:  Today EPA posted a full transcript of the public comments made at its December 14, 2016, meeting, along with the presentations made by EPA staff.  MP3 audio files of the public comments are already posted (note they are huge files).]

EPA held a public meeting Wednesday on the implementation of the New Chemicals Review Program under the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act required EPA to begin implementation of the reforms to the program on the day the legislation was signed into law. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the effort and progress to date.

As we’ve noted before, and as I noted on Wednesday, the changes made to the New Chemicals Review Program were fundamental to TSCA reform and the promise of a new system that better protects public health and the environment.

Representatives from state government, the Senate, NGOs, and industry gathered to hear a series of presentations by EPA about new chemicals reviews under the reformed law, scientific and data issues the Agency is navigating, and the types of information it needs from manufacturers and processors to facilitate a streamlined review process.

A series of oral comments from various stakeholders included a robust showing of support for EPA’s actions from public interest groups representing labor, the environment, and public health, as well as concerns from some in industry with certain aspects of implementation. EPA concluded with a commitment to meet again in six months to discuss its progress in implementing revisions to the New Chemicals Review Program.

A few of the notable stakeholder comments included:

Jonathan Black of Senator Tom Udall’s office read a statement from the Senator noting how essential the reforms to the New Chemicals Program were to him as an author of the Lautenberg Act. He said, “I would not have supported compromises in the package without them. . . New chemicals should not enter the market without findings based on safety and sufficient information and without restrictions necessary to prevent harm while sufficient information is being developed.”

Dr. Jennifer Lowry, representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, urged EPA to “continue its implementation of the new program to ensure as new chemicals enter commerce they do not pose risk to children.”

Racquel Segall, of the labor-environmental coalition Blue Green Alliance, spoke about the importance of “ensuring that products entering the market do not expose workers and members of the public to unreasonable risk.”

Melanie Benesh, an attorney at Environmental Working Group, said “EWG agrees with EPA’s interpretation of the law and we think that speed and efficiency and market innovation are important goals but they should never displace robust review of chemical safety and concerns about public health. If we get the public health wrong up front, we may have bigger problems in the future.”

EDF also spoke in support of EPA’s progress. You can read our full oral comments here.

There is still an opportunity to weigh in on EPA’s new chemical review process. Written comments can be submitted to the docket until January 14th, 2017. For more information about opportunities to engage on implementation of the reformed TSCA, check out our Engagement Guide.

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