The morning session of today’s historic conference exploring routes to federal chemical policy reform made clear that there is now a strong consensus among key stakeholders – industry, the EPA and the White House, the environmental health community – on the need to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Thanks to today’s event, we now have the pleasure of discussing them.
Historic consensus to reform TSCA
A stakeholder consensus to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is now in place. There is agreement that EPA should have greater authority to assess chemicals before they hit the market. A sincere will to sort out policy differences both to boost consumer confidence and protect public health now exists. Stakeholders come to this position for different reasons and from different angles, but we’re there, sharing a commitment to reform that can take us from today all the way to a new law.
There is an upbeat feeling in the room this morning about working together to modernize TSCA – quickly. As Cal Dooley, President & CEO of the American Chemistry Council, aptly described, the goal of this important conversation is to bring stakeholders with diverse perspectives down from the 30,000-feet view of TSCA reform – where there’s much consensus (modernize it!) – to 10,000 feet, then 5,000, 1,000, then ultimately in sight of the air strip.
Of course, the last 10 feet can be the most critical part of any landing, and there are some significant differences to tease out before we reach the ground. But, importantly, the sincere will is there and the necessary stakeholders are ready for this much-needed descent to consensus.
And now for those devilish details…
Once aboard this historic flight, we got down to the work we came together to do: defining our areas of agreement, sorting out our differences, and thinking of ways to move the reform process forward. One main commonality is the drive to serve consumers. Industry is driven by the need to restore consumer confidence in its products, which it knows has been seriously eroded. Environmental health advocates, too, are driven by the interests of consumers, though their goal is to protect their environmental health rather than to boost their confidence in government and industry.
Important discussion points arose during the audience Q & A sessions that are likely to be on the reform coalition’s “to do” list:
Presenting the presenters
This morning, we heard from EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson (right), who shared her agency’s important new emphasis on TSCA reform, and two panels with nine experts from a variety of stakeholders:
Panel 1: Chemicals policy for the 21st century
Panel 2: Providing adequate information on hazard, exposure, and use
The next live post from this conference will cover our afternoon panels:
Today is the first conversation in this collective stakeholder process, but certainly not the last. To continue the apt airplane metaphor introduced by ACC President Cal Dooley, each conversation will bring us closer to the landing strip – even if by just a few hundred feet each time.