The proposed reforms to the US's 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will benefit both foreign investors and manufacturers, according to Lynn Bergeson, founder of Washington, DC-based environmental law firm Bergeson & Campbell, which specialises in helping companies market their products while complying with regulatory requirements.
The revised TSCA reform bill has already passed through the US House of Representatives with impressive bipartisan support. Only 12 senators opposed the bill, which now heads to the Senate for approval before going to the president.
The revisions call for greater annual funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), easier access to companies’ data on the chemicals they use, and a larger mandate for the EPA to ban chemicals it deems toxic. “Chemical manufacturers can now expect the agency to deploy its risk management measure much more robustly and freely,” said Ms Bergeson.
Proponents of the bill say that while the original act had good intentions, it did not go far enough and was outdated. The bill allegedly did not give the EPA a large enough mandate in its endeavours to ban the use of chemicals it believed to be toxic in manufacturing ventures.
Ms Bergeson said: “Having a new federal law with a robust safety standard and clarity as to what the next steps will be over the next five or 10 years will provide a good deal of comfort, predictability and certainty that these chemicals were going to be reviewed prudently and in a stepwise predictable process as soon as the EPA implements the programme.” The bill will create greater business clarity and act as a stabilising factor for foreign investments in US chemical companies, she added.
These measures should also be beneficial for manufacturers dealing with chemicals. Many large corporations dealing with chemicals – including members of the American Coatings association, the Toy Industry Association and the American Apparel and Footwear Association – have not only supported but openly advocated for the passing of these reforms.
Ms Bergeson attributes this to the increase in security these manufacturers would receive as a result of this bill. “You want to make sure that you have a robust communications strategy to ensure that once your chemical portfolio has been teed up, there are no surprises and that you can respond effectively to questions that may come about or concerns that may be raised,” she said.