Smart discussion about toxics policy reform

Industry’s Call for TSCA Reform – No There There

Cal Dooley, new head of the chemical industry lobby group, the American Chemistry Council, seems to have pulled the industry’s head out of the proverbial sand.  Just a year ago the industry adamantly opposed changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Now the industry actively supports “modernization” of the law and has made TSCA reform one of its top priorities.

That’s progress, but it does nothing to guarantee a positive outcome.

Dooley chooses his words carefully in his July 6 op-ed in The Hill.

Some of them we agree with:

“Today, the EPA cannot make a formal determination on whether or not a chemical is safe for its intended use.  That must change.”

And, “…a review and revisions of existing law, the Toxics Substances Control Act, should be made a priority this year.”

But Dooley’s op-ed is just part of a stepped up industry campaign to frame the debate in terms that benefit his members.  At this point the chemical giants are wrapping themselves in platitudes, embracing the “latest advances in science and technology” and “building trust in the federal government.”

Most of what Dooley spouts provides no insight into what the chemical industry will be fighting for when legislation starts moving.  Some key missing pieces are:

How would the industry set priorities for regulation among the thousands of chemicals in widespread use today?  Biomonitoring?  Production volume?  Toxicity?

Does industry support a firm safety standard of no harm to the fetus, infant and young child from chemical exposures during sensitive periods of development?

Do they support public on-line access to all health and safety studies?

Do they support unencumbered authority for EPA to demand any study from chemical manufacturers that is needed to evaluate a chemical?

EWG and many other state and national groups have been quite open on where they stand on these and a host of other critical questions.

I’m glad the industry is for “modernization.”

Now we need to know what that really means.


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3 Responses to “Industry’s Call for TSCA Reform – No There There”

  1. Lydia says:

    I’m glad that everybody seems to agree that “modernization” is essential to better protecting the safety of all. We need to keep in mind that the need for modernization not only applies to the legislation, but the science behind that legislation as well. “Current” testing methods are up there with TSCA in terms of age, while the National Research Council has already published a report entitled “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and Strategy” detailing a clear-cut path to improving chemical tests and thus our safety and the safety of our children. Specific language including this vision for more human-relevant, non-animal chemical testing needs to be included in any legislation hoping to truly impact human health for the better.

  2. Cal Dooley says:

    Richard,

    I’d first like to thank you for recognizing the industry’s support for modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act in your post. You raise some very important questions concerning the shape that reform should take. Some of the questions surrounding TSCA modernization may have simple answers, while others will prove to be extraordinarily complex. None will be answered without consultation among the stakeholders in this debate.

    I would like to invite you, your colleagues and representatives of your sister organizations to sit down with ACC and our colleagues to start a candid and serious dialogue about TSCA modernization. I look forward to your response.

    Cal Dooley, President and CEO
    The American Chemistry Council

  3. Cal,

    EWG looks forward to working with you, your colleagues at ACC, and others in industry to bring TSCA into the modern era. And I salute your personal efforts, and those of others in the chemical industry, to take on TSCA reform, which has such profound implications for the companies you represent.

    –Ken