Congressional Testimony on Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Amendments

Date: June 22nd, 2016

Topic: Pesticides & Toxics

Type: Legislative Input

Jurisdiction: California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington

The 114th Congress sought to pass legislation updating and modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). A coalition of twelve attorneys general weighed in with recommendations at various points in the legislative process, including via testimony at a Senate committee hearing, a letter to Congress following passage of a reform bill by the House, and another letter prior to consideration by the conference committee. The final letter laid out 7 core principles the coalition sought in TSCA reform: (1) States should not be preempted until EPA has taken a final action; (2) Once EPA has taken a final action, the scope of state law preempted should be no broader than the scope of EPA’s action; (3) States should not be preempted from continuing to establish requirements on chemicals pursuant to longstanding state laws; (4) States should not be preempted from continuing to enforce existing requirements on chemicals; (5) State laws related to water quality, air quality or waste treatment or disposal should not be preempted; (6) States should be able to obtain a waiver to adopt requirements that are more protective than EPA’s if the requirements do not unduly burden interstate commerce and do not make it impossible to comply with both state and federal law; and (7) States should be able to keep “cops on the beat” to co-enforce requirements that have been adopted by EPA.

The final bill, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. 114-182),  was enacted on June 22, 2016. The coalition of attorneys general announced that the legislation as enacted met the principles previously announced, allowing states to continue enforcing existing state chemical restrictions and retain their role as co-enforcers of EPA regulations.

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