Regulatory policy

Is a TSCA Policy Advisory Committee necessary?

In 2016, 40 years after it was originally passed in 1976, Congress dramatically amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by passing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. These changes triggered an unprecedented and sustained scientific review of chemicals in commerce by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxic Substances (OPPT) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), within Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). Under the 2016 TSCA amendments, for example, the OPPT must prioritize chemicals for an intensive, multi-year risk assessment process to determine whether chemicals pose an unreasonable risk of harm to human health. health or the environment, including unreasonable risk to potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations. If an unreasonable risk is identified, then the OPPT must enact regulations to eliminate that risk, which may include severe restriction of the use of the chemical.

Although the TSCA was amended more than six years ago, the policies and regulations that govern complex risk assessment processes and procedures have not been fully developed. Additionally, significant implementation challenges continue to hamper the New Chemicals Program, resulting in unprecedented delays in the review of new chemical submissions. To date, EPA has sought public input on TSCA regulatory policy matters through Notices and Comments under the Administrative Procedure Act and through ad hoc meetings and sporadic stakeholders. There is a third way to get stakeholder input that has yet to be leveraged – a TSCA Implementation Advisory Committee.

A TSCA-focused advisory committee could be structured to mirror the long-standing Pesticide Program Action Dialogue Committee (PPDC) originally created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in July. 1995. The advisory committees established under the FACA play an important role in the development of programs and policies of federal agencies, including the EPA.

For nearly four decades, the PPDC has provided the OPP with regulatory policy advice on proposed changes to policies and procedures, among other defined functions. PPDC members represent a wide range of private and public interest stakeholders, including chemical pesticide trade associations, farmer groups, environmental and public interest groups, and federal agencies, among others.

The 2016 TSCA amendments called for the creation of a FACA committee, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC), which the EPA created in December 2016. The SACC, however, appropriately focuses on aspects scientific and technical aspects of TSCA implementation. What is still needed is an advisory committee on the many TSCA policy issues that are still taking shape in both the new and existing chemicals program. Stakeholders need a place where they can air their concerns and provide timely and constructive feedback and recommendations. A FACA advisory committee on the implementation of TSCA is long overdue.