US House subcommittee to closely scrutinize law on toxic substances

The US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy continued its examination of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with a hearing yesterday on new chemicals regulation, protecting confidential business information and general innovation.

The hearing built on the subcommittee's June 13 hearing on TSCA Title I and focused on two key areas of the law: The regulation of new chemicals and the protection of proprietary business information.

"I believe evaluating TSCA sections 5 (new chemicals) and 14 (disclosure of data) is fundamental to judging progress in new technologies and manufacturing frontiers in our country,” said Subcommittee Vice Chairman Phil Gingrey (R-GA).

"American companies are on the cutting edge of chemical innovation, and the new chemical structure in TSCA has allowed us to lead the world. For example, the European Union's new chemical requirements saw 3,000 new chemicals introduced, while the United States saw six times as many new chemicals introduced over the same period in time."

Testifying on behalf of the American Chemistry Council, Craig Morrison, CEO of Momentive Performance Materials Holdings, praised sections 5 and 14 of TSCA, urging Congress to preserve these critical elements of the law.

"These sections provide an important regulatory framework that protects health and the environment, and allows our industry's innovative solutions to come to market," Mr. Morrison said. "It is fair to say that sections 5 and 14 have been partly responsible for the significant competitive advantage the business of chemistry has in the US compared to other countries and regions."

To fulfill its responsibilities under TSCA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires access to substantial technical information to make scientific and regulatory determinations. Mr. Morrison and Dr. Len Sauers, a vice president for Procter and Gamble, both testified that the EPA must balance the need to protect confidential business information with the need for access to important health and safety information.

"We rely heavily on the protection of confidential business information afforded by Section 14 of TSCA to remain competitive in the US and global marketplace," said Dr. Sauers. "The challenge of a competitive marketplace and of earning the right to win with consumers incentivizes us to continually search for more sustainable innovations that meaningfully improve the lives of our consumers and deliver real environmental benefits."

"The EPA cannot do the job we've given them to evaluate new chemicals for introduction into commerce, or to evaluate new uses of previously approved chemicals, unless chemical makers provide the EPA some specific and sensitive information about how the chemical is made and how its developers expect to use it," said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

"At the same time, the EPA must be careful to not disclose that information. Without information protection, there is no incentive to innovate. Without innovation, the economy can't grow and we can't create new jobs."

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