On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed HR2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, into law. This is the long awaited reform of TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA was originally passed in 1976, for many years now it has been recognized that TSCA has not provided an effective means of regulating chemicals in commerce.
So is the new improved TSCA really an improvement? The consensus seems to be that yes, it does provide some real improvements, establishing a process that should result in some effective regulation of chemicals, but that it could have been a whole lot better. Advocacy organizations and supportive legislators worked hard to make it a good bill, but in order to get legislators from both parties on board, considerable compromises were made.
Here is a quick overview from the Safer Chemicals Health Families folks (NAHMMA signed on as one of their coalition members):
"The reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gives EPA important new authorities to tackle the problem of toxic chemicals. For the first time, there are also enforceable deadlines and schedules for EPA work on chemicals as well as dedicated funding from fees paid by industry. The pace of change will be slow, however. There are some unnecessary activities required that will divert resources and there are some loopholes in the law. State authority is unduly infringed under the bill, but enough is preserved that states can still take the lead in public health interventions for many if not most, chemicals."
Here are some more detailed reports on the new law, from some of NAHMMA's partner organizations: