Congress Reaches Agreement To Update Regulations On Toxic Substances

Date: May 20, 2016 Last Edit: May 23, 2016

Toxic Substances Control Act Would Regulate Household Chemicals For First Time; Bill Would Give EPA New Powers

The New York Times reports the Senate and House have reached a bipartisan agreement “on far-reaching legislation to overhaul” the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), “a compromise that would subject thousands of household chemicals to regulation for the first time.” The bill’s authors said the legislation “represents a pragmatic, politically viable compromise between better environmental standards and the demands of industry.” According to The Hill, the bill grants the Environmental Protection Agency “sweeping new authority and resources fees to regulate and order testing of thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals.” It also prioritizes chemicals based on their risks. The Washington Post reports that “the compromise…will provide the industry with greater certainty while empowering the [EPA] to obtain more information about a chemical before sanctioning its use.” The bill “gives the EPA the power to require companies to provide health and safety data for untested chemicals and to prevent substances from reaching the market if they have not been determined to be safe.” In exchange, chemical manufacturers will now “be subject to a single regulatory system.” The AP reports that the agreement “has won the backing” of industry officials and US Senators from both parties. One compromise in the bill would allow states to regulate specific chemicals if the federal government does not complete the regulatory process within 3½ years.

What Happens Next

The Senate and House are both expected to vote on the bill next week, and the compromise measure is expected to be approved in both chambers.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Though the measure is being hailed as a compromise, small businesses know the dangers of granting government agencies, particularly the EPA, sweeping regulatory powers. However, this measure reduces regulatory uncertainty that businesses face, making it a rare example of government and industry working to consider the best interests of consumers and businesses.

Additional Reading

Politico also covers the story.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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