Senate Vote Advances Efforts to Enact First Major Reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976
On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Senate considered legislation previously approved by the House (H.R. 2576, entitled the “TSCA Modernization Act of 2015”), and in an unanimous vote passed H.R. 2576, as amended by the Senate with the text of Senate bill 697, entitled the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act” (S. 697). The two versions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform legislation passed in the House and Senate will now need to be reconciled by Congress in conference committee before a final version can be sent to President Obama for approval, which is expected to occur in 2016. At this time, however, it is uncertain whether the final reform legislation sent for approval will look more like the 211 page Senate bill (S. 697) or the 46 page House version (H.R. 2576), which is much narrower in scope.
Regardless of the final version presented for approval, the reform legislation will be the first major amendment to TSCA since its enactment in 1976, and is expected to give EPA more authority to obtain new information on all chemical substances in the U.S. commerce, require new safety testing of both new and existing chemicals, and establish standards for prioritizing chemicals to determine their safety. The final legislation is also expected to establish a Scientific Advisory Committee to provide independent scientific advice to EPA and require EPA to develop guidelines and implementing regulations within two years of enactment.