Senate Strengthens EPA’s Tools to Regulate Toxic Substances
by Mandy Hicks
On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a bill that strengthens and amends the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Under the new law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is no longer required to select the least burdensome means of protecting the public from toxic chemicals. Instead, the agency is now prevented from taking cost or other non-risk factors into consideration when deciding whether to regulate a particular substance.
The Act requires EPA to review the safety of chemicals currently in use and determine whether they pose an unreasonable risk of harm to human health or the environment. In order to facilitate this process, the Act grants EPA the authority to order testing of both new and in-use chemicals before soliciting public comment. Under the new law, EPA will collect an estimated $18 million annually in new fees from chemical manufacturers and users. Businesses could see the phasing out or total ban of chemicals that they are currently using.
In addition, the Act will make it harder for businesses to withhold information about regulated chemicals that they use. Confidential business information (CBI) claims must now reviewed by the EPA, and CBI protection will not apply for chemicals that EPA bans or phases out.