EPA Official Urges Caution Revising Environmental Chemicals Law

Published December 24, 2013

Congress should proceed cautiously with proposed legislation to revise environmental health restrictions on chemical substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator James Jones told a House Subcommittee. Jones’ testimony disappointed environmental activist groups seeking to impose substantial new restrictions on chemical products.

Jones, one of the top staffers for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, presented the testimony to the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. Congress is considering legislation that would scrap the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) and replace it with the proposed Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA).

Environmental activist groups claim the TSCA is not effective because it has banned relatively few chemicals. The activist groups also claim the TSCA puts too much of a burden on government officials to prove a chemical is unsafe. Instead, activists argue the initial assumption should be all products with manufactured chemicals are unsafe and the burden should be on manufacturers to prove a chemical is safe for its intended use.

The CSIA is viewed as compromise legislation that would increase EPA’s ability to investigate and regulate chemicals but would not impose a presumption that all chemical products are unsafe. In the U.S. Senate, 12 Democrats and 13 Republicans have signed on as cosponsors of CSIA.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.