Talk continues about changes to chemical regulations, but no action yet

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: February 4, 2014 4:46 pm ET
Updated: February 4, 2014 4:48 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy

WASHINGTON – Changes to chemical regulation that would ultimately impact the plastics industry are imperceptibly limping along in Congress, even in the face of the December chemical spill in West Virginia that riled some lawmakers who were already pushing for change.

A House subcommittee quizzed witnesses from industry and health and environmental groups Feb. 4 on what they believe works—and what doesn't—in the sections of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that require testing and reporting.

Industry representatives maintained that companies, specifically those farthest upstream in manufacturing processes, conduct chemical tests on their products on their own, without demands from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which administrates TSCA.

But as it stands, the law "significantly burdens EPA" by requiring the agency to demonstrate that a chemical is potentially dangerous before it can force the companies to hand over their testing data, testified Dr. Jerry Paulson of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Companies should be required to release information to EPA," Paulson said. "EPA shouldn't have to ask for it."

But no company wants to run the risk of revealing proprietary information to competitors or making their intellectual property available to the world by way of an EPA chemical database.

"It's not that I want to hide any hazard information, but I would like to keep my chemical ID confidential," said Beth Bosley, president of Boron Specialties, LLC, who testified on behalf of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.

Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, said that TSCA is in serious need of "rational modernization," but urged lawmakers not to hobble industry in the process.

"I urge congress to make sure that we don't inhibit the manufacturing renaissance by allowing a patchwork of state-by-state regulations," Drevna said. "This calls for federal action. Great care must be taken so that manufacturing supply chains are not disrupted.

Later in the day, in the Senate, a hearing on the chemical spill in West Virginia's Elk River also brought up TSCA's failings, particularly in terms of its requirements for testing and reporting on chemical storage facilities.

The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) -- proposed last May by co-authors Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., as a compromise bill after more than a decade of disagreements on revamping TSCA -- would require safety testing of all chemicals on the market as well as new chemicals, and would grant the EPA authority to phase out or ban chemicals deemed harmful, from flame retardants to building materials to bisphenol A. While the bill has drawn 25 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle and hearings have been held, the measure to revamp TSCA remains parked with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.


Comments

Talk continues about changes to chemical regulations, but no action yet

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: February 4, 2014 4:46 pm ET
Updated: February 4, 2014 4:48 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Texas consumer group urges more science in advocacy campaigns

April 17, 2014 1:35 pm ET

WASHINGTON—The Texas Consumer Association (TCA) is raising concerns about consumer advocacy campaigns against certain chemicals and plastic...    More

Image

Using social media to answer consumer questions about plastics

April 17, 2014 10:59 am ET

Plastic packaging was stoutly defended on a recent Q&A session on social media site Twitter, run jointly by the British Plastics Federation and...    More

EU moving closer to rules that will reduce plastic bag use by 80 percent

April 17, 2014 10:54 am ET

European Union countries could have to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags by at least 80 percent by 2019 under draft rules backed by the...    More

With European Parliament vote looming, official urges bag restriction

April 16, 2014 9:56 am ET

Janez Potocnik, Europe's commissioner for the environment, told the European Parliament April 15 that plastic shopping bags are a “highly...    More

Shell Chemical to host public meetings to discuss plans in Pennsylvania

April 15, 2014 3:27 pm ET

Shell Chemical LP will host two public meetings on April 16 to discuss the possibility of building a major petrochemicals plant in the Pittsburgh area...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events