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'Reforming' the Toxic Substances Control Act

Op-Eds and Articles

CEI's chemical policy expert, Angela Logomasini, discusses whether the proposed changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act are good or bad for consumers

As early as this week, the Senate is slated to take up a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. Supposedly, the proposal has enough bipartisan support to sustain a filibuster. So are the proposed changes to TSCA good or bad for consumers? There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

As I have explained numerous times, the current TSCA has what is probably the best standard for evaluating environmental risks that the U.S. has on the books. In particular, one provision requires the Environmental Protection Agency to apply the "least burdensome" rule necessary to achieve safety goals, which holds the agency accountable.

This provision prevents the agency from issuing regulations that are likely to do more harm than good. For example, it prevented a proposed ban of asbestos in automobile brakes, a usage that has not been shown to affect human health. A court held the ban would likely have led to a net loss of life by increasing highway fatalities.

You would think that a regulatory policy that prevents needless deaths is a good thing. Yet both House and Senate TSCA-reform proposals would eliminate the "least burdensome" requirement. The new law would also give EPA lots of power to demand expensive data collection and impose needless bureaucratic red tape on industry, and charge business high fees on top of it all.