Senators Meeting Regularly on TSCA Reform But Have No Time Frame for Moving Bill

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By Anthony Adragna

March 14 --The lead Senate proponents of reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act have been meeting regularly but do not yet have a time frame for attempting to move legislation, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) told Bloomberg BNA March 13.

Udall, the lead Democrat working on TSCA reform, said he has been tracking House legislation to reform the statute and said he feels “very positive” about the prospects of passing legislation to reform the 1976 law.

“The fact that things are advancing is a good thing,” Udall said. “I don't think we agree with everything that's in the House bill.”

The New Mexico Democrat took the lead in working with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) in developing a revised version of bipartisan legislation to reform TSCA. Vitter and the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced a bipartisan bill--the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (S. 1009)--to modernize the law in May 2013 shortly before Lautenberg's death.

Udall said there was not yet a time frame for introducing a revised version of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act.

Efforts in the House have picked up speed in recent weeks. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) introduced a discussion draft of legislation to reform TSCA that would provide the Environmental Protection Agency with additional ways to obtain toxicity data and other information on chemicals in commerce and would direct the EPA to evaluate the safety of those chemicals .

House Democrats have been critical of Shimkus' discussion draft but the Illinois Republican said he welcomes suggestions for how to improve the legislation and hopes it will ultimately gain bipartisan support.

At a March 12 House subcommittee hearing on the discussion draft, Shimkus said the legislation would likely “undergo changes” as Democrats and Republicans work to “ find consensus” .

TSCA authorizes the EPA to collect data on new chemicals to evaluate and assess possible health and environmental risks, but does not require the agency to review existing chemicals. Reform proponents say few of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently on the market have been fully assessed for the risks they pose to human health and the environment.

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