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Groups lining up for — and against — toxic chemical reform

By: Gayle S. Putrich

June 12, 2013

WASHINGTON — A coalition of more than 85 trade associations has banded together in favor of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) the first-ever update for decades-old regulatory legislation. Meanwhile, environmental groups are circling the wagons to oppose it.

The American Alliance for Innovation (AAI) — which includes a wide variety of plastics and plastics-related trade groups from the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to the Plastics Pipe Institute and the Styrene Information and Research Center — came out in favor of CSIA Tuesday.

“The bill provides a solid scientific foundation for regulatory decisions and provides clear direction for EPA to create a transparent, efficient and sensible process to manage the safety of chemicals in commerce,” the group said in an AAI press release.

Introduced last month by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) would update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requiring new tests for the 85,000 chemicals already on the U.S. market and expanding the regulatory authority of the Environmental Protection Agency. The ACC and the Grocery Manufacturers Association worked together to form the AAI multi-industry coalition with the express purpose of gathering support and pressuring Congress and offering input on TSCA reform.

But on Wednesday, 15 health and environmental groups, including Greenpeace, the Environmental Working Group and the Breast Cancer Fund sent legislators a letter asking them to oppose the measure and warning that the bill “will fall far short of our shared goal of safeguarding human health from the risks posed by exposure to toxic chemicals."

On Thursday, a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee is set to hold a hearing on parts of the Toxic Substances Control Act, with representatives the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Breast Cancer Fund and the Government Accountability Office expected to testify.