WASHINGTON (January 24, 2024) – This morning, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). During the hearing, Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assistant Administrator Dr. Michal Freedhoff testified before the committee on what the Agency described as the TSCA program achievements and called for Congress to provide the EPA additional resources.
In response to this morning’s hearing, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) today recognized some of the actions underway by the EPA but continued its call on Congress to ensure the Agency is effectively managing the TSCA program’s current resources and to address the confusing and conflicting regulations coming from the EPA.
“We appreciate Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Capito and the Committee for their attention to this critical issue. Last year, Assistant Administrator Freedhoff outlined plans for the TSCA program ‘to work smarter, not harder’,” said ACC President & CEO Chris Jahn.
But our experience is a TSCA that is still experiencing continuous backlogs in the New Chemicals Program and overly broad risk evaluations that result in uncertainty, confusion, stifled American innovation, and offshoring. Dr. Freedhoff highlighted several actions that the Agency is taking to improve throughput and the EPA must continue to make adjustments to the way it is implementing TSCA or national priorities of the Biden administration like increasing semiconductor production under the CHIPS and Science Act will suffer. Now is the time for renewed focus and action. We urge Congress to ensure the EPA is prioritizing its resources, focusing on its statutory mandates and implementing the TSCA program as the 2016 bipartisan compromise intended.
The TSCA New Chemicals Program is the pipeline of advanced chemistries necessary for tomorrow’s innovations, from clean energy solutions to electric vehicles to semiconductors. The ongoing and growing backlog of new chemicals in the EPA review process has climbed to unacceptable levels over the past few years.
In 2023, ACC launched a web tool tracking the progress of TSCA New Chemical reviews using data provided by the EPA. As of January 11, 2024, the backlog of new chemical reviews is 94 percent. In a 2022 survey of ACC member companies, seventy percent reported deciding to introduce new chemicals in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. given the uncertainties and challenges with EPA’s New Chemicals Program.
We are calling on Congress to assure industry and stakeholders that TSCA is being effectively managed by the EPA before providing any additional resources. We want to see the EPA effectively and efficiently utilize the TSCA program’s current resources, which were increased in 2023. We thank the Committee for raising awareness of the challenges facing TSCA through today’s hearing and the opportunity to take action and make progress.
Some new policies under this EPA have derailed the review process for existing chemicals already in commerce. ACC has highlighted several ways the EPA has not used the best available scientific standards and assessed real-world conditions of use when making safety determinations on existing chemicals inconsistent with TSCA requirements.
“The lack of timeliness and uncertainty in both new and existing chemical reviews will have an adverse effect across the supply chain and economy,” said ACC Vice President for Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Dr. Kimberly Wise White.
We are currently witnessing this effect on new investments and innovations, resulting in many chemical producers choosing to manufacture and introduce their new chemistries offshore. This coupled with the EPA’s approach to risk evaluations of existing chemicals already in commerce could dramatically impact the economy and the marketplace. We welcomed Dr. Freedhoff’s commitment to provide more transparency in how the Agency utilizes industry-submitted data in its decision-making and the agency’s recognition that more work is needed to improve the new chemicals submission and review process. EPA must continue this focus on improving transparency and throughput in its program implementation and demonstrate to Congress it has effectively taken corrective actions.
ACC and industry will continue to work with Congress and the EPA to implement beneficial solutions for a TSCA program that is designed to work smarter, not harder, and is able to achieve measurable results.
Visit ACC’s TSCA webpage for additional information.