The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) modernization bill on April 28, 2015. The bill is an amended version of the bipartisan bill S. 697, the "Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Act." The amended bill, which passed out of Committee by a vote of 15-5, included compromises on the following key issues:
- Preemption – the amendment limits preemption of state laws and allows co-enforcement of Federal requirements by states;
- Deadlines – the amendment clarifies the deadlines for implementing risk management measures;
- Existing Science – under the amendment, EPA must consider hazard and exposure information published by other Federal agencies or the National Academies;
- Low Priority Designations – the amendment provides the public an opportunity to comment on and challenge low priority chemical designations; and
- PBTs – under the amendment, EPA must specifically consider PBTs, and give preference to TSCA Work Plan Chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative, when prioritizing chemical substances for review.
TSCA reform legislation is also being considered in the House of Representatives, with Representative Shimkus' (R-IL) discussion draft, the "TSCA Modernization Act of 2015" scheduled for markup on May 14, 2015. The House discussion draft takes a restrained approach to TSCA reform, amending only selected provisions of the Act and leaving basic standards and procedures in place. For example, the bill keeps the current safety standard and does not establish a prioritization scheme or set deadlines for designating existing chemicals for risk evaluation. However, once a chemical is designated for risk evaluation, EPA must meet certain deadlines to complete the evaluation and promulgate risk management measures. The bill gives EPA authority to issue testing orders to assist in the development of a risk evaluation, while strengthening the current preemption provisions. It also allows manufacturers to initiate risk evaluations that trigger preemption.