June 10, 2016

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The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) is being reformed by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.  TSCA regulates the manufacture, transportation, sale and use of thousands of chemicals, so this is big news for anyone who makes and/or uses chemicals, which is all of us.  TSCA 2.0 is notable because: (a) our federal environmental statutes rarely get amended (the last time was 1990, when yours truly was watching West Germany win the World Cup and movie classics like Home Alone), and (b) Congress agreed on something!  The full amended legislation is available here, but, in case you prefer to spend your time doing things other than reading federal legislation (making me question your judgment, because what could be more fun?), here are some of the highlights of the new legislation:

  1. EPA has additional and more flexible authority in testing chemicals, is required to review the safety of all new chemicals, and must follow a specific process for assigning priority levels to chemicals (a process used to determine the appropriate level of risk assessment, giving EPA the ability to assess “worst first”).
  2. Penalty amounts for civil (now $37,500 per day) and criminal (now $50,000 per day) violations have increased.
  3. Federal preemption is expanded, meaning citizens in states that have been more active in regulating toxic chemicals (e.g., California, New York) may face new obstacles to seeing their days in court under existing state legislation.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation soon, making TSCA 2.0 official in the near future.