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Efficiency of New Chemicals Process under New TSCA Continues to Suffer

As EPA continues to implement the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA), the “new” TSCA as we have called it, and develop watershed framework rules, many in industry have mounting concerns about the direction of the new chemicals review process, which drastically changed upon enactment of the new legislation on June 22, 2016. The industry position, for 10 years, has been to not modify Section 5. If it were to change, the changes were to be minimal, and it was our thought that LCSA did not make any significant changes. The agency’s ongoing practice of reviewing new chemicals pre-TSCA reform was one of old TSCA’s only success stories and was codified in the new law. Unfortunately, the program has been flipped on its head. SOCMA is concerned by how EPA is interpreting the amended act and is exploring ways to get the process back on track.

Hopeful Things will Improve under New EPA Leadership

On a positive note, Nancy Beck a former American Chemistry Council employee recently got a job at the agency as the new principal deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), where she will play a key role implementing the revised toxics law. Her position does not require Senate confirmation, so she can be expected to jump right into her role. Furthermore, Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced in his “Back-to-the-Basics” agenda that eliminating the backlog of new chemicals review is a top priority. Once an Assistant Administrator gets confirmed in the toxics office, we hope for additional moves in the right direction. 

Opportunities to Advocate our View of an Effective New Chemicals Review Process

Last December at a stakeholder meeting on the new chemicals program EPA’s Jeff Morris, Director in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, noted he would plan to reconvene stakeholders this June to discuss implementation of the new chemicals provision. At that meeting SOCMA made an oral statement and submitted written comments. This will be yet another opportunity to highlight our concerns and offer suggestions to EPA, on the record. 

During SOCMA’s 10th Annual Washington Fly-In on Wednesday, April 26, SOCMA members and staff highlighted concerns with TSCA implementation, hammering home concerns with the new chemicals process and the delays manufacturers are experiencing getting their chemicals to market. SOCMA made the point to lawmakers and Congressional staffers that EPA will need adequate funding and highlighted the urgency of getting an assistant administrator in place. SOCMA signed on to an industry coalition letter that advocates for adequate funding via appropriations to help ensure successful implementation of new TSCA as well.
 
SOCMA plans to submit an article that should get published in Bloomberg BNA, hammering home our concerns with the new chemicals process. And, SOCMA has been invited to participate in a Bloomberg BNA webinar on the new chemicals process on June 12.
 

We are approaching the problem from many angles. If things do not improve, it is possible oversight hearings could occur in the latter half of the year after an assistant administrator is put into place and EPA is given some more time to get things back on track. After all, the Administration should be favorable to our industry.

 
For now, members should not hesitate to contact SOCMA staff with any anecdotes on how EPA’s interpretation of new TSCA has been affecting their company and the supply chain. We are hopeful things will improve and continue to hit the pressure points to get us back to where we need to be. For more information contact Dan Newton at newtond@socma.com or 571 348 5122.
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