Chemical Law Is Priority, Says Trump’s EPA Pick

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By Pat Rizzuto

Implementing the amended Toxic Substances Control Act is absolutely a priority, Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, testified Jan. 18.

The EPA also must make managing certain chemicals, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a priority, Pruitt told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during his nomination hearing.

Committee chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) were among the senators who asked Pruitt about TSCA implementation during his nomination hearing.

Pruitt told Capito that TSCA implementation would “absolutely” be a priority.

Core TSCA Rules

He later listed core, or “framework,” regulations the amended chemicals law required.

Issuing those mid-year, as the statute requires, should be the next EPA administrator’s priority, Pruitt said.

Amended TSCA requires the EPA to issue three fundamental implementation rules by June. The rules would establish procedures the EPA would use to:

  •  update the TSCA inventory so it distinguishes between chemicals that have been made, sold or used during the last 10 years and chemicals that have been in commerce, but now aren’t;
  •  review the chemicals in commerce and determine which need to have potential risks from their health effects and exposures evaluated; and
  •  evaluate those risks.
A fourth core regulation, referred to as the fee rule, would establish the fees chemical manufacturers and processors would pay to help the EPA recoup its chemical oversight costs.

The fee rule does not have a statutory deadline, but the EPA needs the revenue the rule would generate to carry out the law’s mandates.

‘Teflon’ Chemical in Drinking Water

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she’s concerned about perfluorooctanoic acid that is contaminating her state’s drinking water supplies.

PFOA should be tested under the chemicals law, she said.

“If it is a carcinogen as many scientists say it is, it needs to be banned,” Gillibrand said.

Perfluorooctanoic acid has been phased out of U.S. production, but can still be imported. For decades, it was used to make other chemicals that go into cookware, cables, textiles and other products with stick-, stain- and heat-resistant properties.

PFOA also remains in the environment as related chemicals break down to it. DuPont’s former use of PFOA to make other chemicals, which in turn were used to manufacture Teflon and other nonstick cookware has led to the chemical being dubbed the “Teflon” chemical.

New York, New Jersey, California, Minnesota, Ohio and West Virginia are just a few states where the local officials have detected the chemical in drinking water supplies.

Pruitt said PFOA needs to be addressed quickly whether under TSCA or the Safe Drinking Water Act.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington, D.C. at prizzuto@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

Video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Pruitt on the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is available at http://src.bna.com/lyA.

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