New bills on TSCA reform are due in 2013 – Sen. Lautenberg reintroducing his Safe Chemicals Act and Sen. Vitter is expected to introduce a paired down version of TSCA revisions.  Given the major pressures on Congress – fiscal mess, immigration, gun control, etc. and the Republican House – it’s not clear anything will pass this year, but there should be more to chew on.  The problem is everyone wants some thing different in “modernization” of TSCA: make it easier for EPA to issue regulations, but not too easy and convince the public chemicals are safe – whatever that means.

EPA is showing some gumption in using the extensive authorities it already has under TSCA with more SNURs, extended information-gathering under the Chemical Data Reporting rule and “Work Plans.”  I think they are still too timid (not that they can’t go too far sometimes). If they would just work their work plan based on opportunities for real risk-reduction priorities, a lot could be accomplished – although not the massive chemical bans desired by the NGOs.  (Hmmmm… could it be they can’t prioritize risk-reductions because there aren’t significant risks out there?)

It is sad that EPA’s TSCA program seems to need detailed legislative instructions to get down to work.  Unfortunately, that just encourages Congress to get into the business of writing detailed regulations instead of legislation.  Instead of knowledgeable scientists and bureaucrats, we get a handful of behind-the-scenes Congressional staff and special interest ghost writers effectively issuing regulations born of political deals, not public notice and comment rulemaking.  Instead of being able to initiate new rulemaking to change a regulation to respond to new information or learnings, we will be again stuck with the decades-long political process of new legislation.

The same goes for all the state legislation – except multiplied by 50 (or more if you count city-state efforts of the likes of SF and NYC).  At least you can get changes a little faster in than Congress to fix things.

We’ll see….

Nice industry perspective articles from here and here

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