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Good morning Chairman Shimkus, Ranking Member Tonko, and other members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss reform of chemicals management in
It is clear that there is wide agreement on the importance of ensuring chemical safety and restoring the public's confidence that the chemicals used in the products they and their families use are safe. This Administration also believes it is crucial to modernize and strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to provide the
We continue to be encouraged by the interest in TSCA reform indicated by the introduction of several bills in recent years, the hearings on TSCA related issues that are being held, and the bi-partisan discussions that are taking place. Key stakeholders share common principles on how best to improve our chemicals management programs. We at the
Chemicals are found in almost everything we buy and use. They can be essential for our health, our well being, and our prosperity. However, we believe that it is equally essential that chemicals are safe. While we have a better understanding of the environmental impacts, exposure pathways, and health effects that some chemicals can have than we did when TSCA was passed, under the existing law it is challenging to act on that knowledge.
TSCA gives the
While TSCA was an important step forward in 1976, it has over the years fallen behind the industry it is intended to regulate. TSCA has also proven a challenging tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects. A strong reauthorization measure would enable us to significantly strengthen the effectiveness of this outdated law.
When TSCA was enacted, it grandfathered in, without any evaluation, about 60,000 chemicals in commerce at the time. In addition, the statute did not provide adequate authority for the
It has also proven challenging in some cases to take action to limit or ban chemicals that the
As a result, in the more than three and a half decades since the passage of TSCA, the
TSCA should be updated and strengthened, including providing the appropriate tools to protect the American people from exposure to harmful chemicals. The
While the Administration has not yet developed a formal position on the discussion draft of the bill, there are several important observations that I would like to offer. As stated in the principles above, we feel strongly that updated legislation should include improvements that will provide the
The Administration principles state that priority chemicals should be assessed and acted upon in a timely manner, with clear, enforceable and practicable deadlines for completion of chemical reviews. The current discussion draft does not include a mechanism that would provide for the timely review of existing chemicals that may pose a concern, which we believe is vitally important to assuring the American public that the chemicals they find in the products they buy and use are safe.
As stated earlier, the use of section 6 of TSCA to limit or ban a chemical that poses a significant risk has been a major challenge. By including a standard very similar to the current TSCA section 6 authorities, the draft bill fails to address another key element of meaningful chemical safety reform. Administration Principle 1 states that chemicals should be reviewed against a safety standard based on sound science and risk-based criteria protective of human health and the environment. By this, we mean that assessment of safety should not include consideration of costs or the availability of substitutes. We address those issues in Principle 3, which states that when addressing chemicals that do not meet the safety standard, risk management decisions should take into account cost and availability of substitutes, as well as sensitive subpopulations and other factors. The draft bill does not align with the approach delineated in the principles.
The new chemicals provisions in Section 5 of the current discussion draft also do not align with the principles, in that they do not require that the
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for your leadership on TSCA reform. I will be happy to answer any questions you or other members may have.
Read this original document at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF18/20140429/102160/HHRG-113-IF18-Wstate-JonesJ-20140429.pdf
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