Eight Steps to Real Chemical Reform

As two Congressional committees develop legislation to update the nation’s broken toxic chemicals law, it’s good to remember what real reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 would look like:

  1. Chemicals should be safe – Real reform of TSCA would protect vulnerable populations and be based solely on considerations of health and safety. It would exclude cost considerations from the decision on whether to regulate a chemical.
  2. Expedited review of asbestos and persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals – Real reform of TSCA would create a pathway to quickly review and regulate asbestos and dangerous chemicals that persist in the environment and build up in our bodies.
  3. Tough deadlines – Real reform would set tough, enforceable deadlines for action by the Environmental Protection Agency, including deadlines for implementing chemical restrictions and bans.
  4. Judicial deference – Real reform would require judges to grant deference to EPA’s expertise unless they are persuaded that an agency action was “arbitrary and capricious."
  5. Products should be regulated – Real reform would allow EPA to regulate chemicals as well as products that contain them and make the decision on how to regulate both of them part of a single inquiry.
  6. Adequate funding – Real reform would require that EPA have the resources to quickly review the most dangerous chemicals.
  7. Safe list review – Real reform would ensure that any designation of “low priority” chemicals is subject to judicial review.
  8. Preserve state role – Real reform would preserve a role for the states by allowing them to take action during EPA’s review of a chemical, allowing states to enforce federal rules and set tougher standards in some cases, and by protecting states’ clean air and water laws. 
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