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Inhofe Hearing Statement: Assessing the Effectiveness of U.S. Chemical Safety Laws
February 3, 2011

Contacts:

Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov  (202) 224-9797

David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov  (202) 224-5642             

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health entitled, "Assessing the Effectiveness of U.S. Chemical Safety Laws."

Thursday, February 3, 2011 10:00 a.m.

I would like to thank Senator Lautenberg for scheduling this important hearing to examine the effectiveness of the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.  I want to thank him, and his staff, for continuing an important dialogue with my staff on how to modernize TSCA.  I will continue to work with him, and I hope that as we further define our principles, we can reach an agreement to develop a workable bill, one based on the best available science, one that protects human health, and one that balances the need to protect jobs and economic growth. 

Another important consideration is that we craft a bill that can pass both the House and Senate.  This is an important test, because if we can't get the votes we need for a comprehensive solution, then we may have to consider alternative legislative options to address specific issues that might have broader bipartisan support.  I hope today's hearing will help us identify some of those issues as we continue our dialogue to modernize TSCA. 

We have an impressive witness list today, with experts from various backgrounds who can offer unique perspectives on TSCA and its implementation.   An important issue for me, which I hope the witnesses will address, is TSCA's broad reach over chemical manufacturing, and its potential, and real, impacts on the economy.   TSCA regulates the manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal of chemicals-authority that covers thousands of transactions and decisions by thousands of people every day.  

Given this fact, we need to ensure that EPA is regulating properly.  When we think about modernizing TSCA, several questions come to mind: Will reform allow EPA to foster, rather than stifle, innovation?  Will reform inspire public confidence in EPA's decisions as well as the products industry produces?  Will reform rely on the best available science?  Will reform ensure EPA is protecting human health and the environment? 

These are fairly basic questions, but they must be answered, as we are dealing with a statute that is 35 years old, one passed before the myriad of innovations that have dramatically changed the chemical industry.  It is time to bring TSCA into the 21st Century.

That would certainly require legislation of some kind.  As I have stated many times, modernization of TSCA should:

 - be based on the best available science; 

 - use a risk-based standard for chemical reviews; 

 - include more rigorous cost-benefit requirements; 

 - protect proprietary information; 

 - reduce the likelihood of litigation; 

 - avoid compelling product substitution; and 

 - prioritize reviews for existing chemicals.

I also look forward to working with EPA as we conduct oversight of the TSCA program.  I want to thank Steve Owens for his testimony today, and his willingness to make his staff accessible to the Committee as we seek greater understanding of EPA's path forward on TSCA implementation.  There are certainly policy and legal issues on which we disagree, but the fact that we are working together inspires great confidence. 

I am glad to hear that in the House, Rep. Shimkus, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Environment and Economy, has made TSCA oversight one of his top priorities.  Rep. Shimkus and I will no doubt work together to ensure the TSCA program is working effectively within the confines of the law. 

Again, I appreciate Sen. Lautenberg's work on this issue and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today on their constructive ideas for updating, improving, and modernizing our chemical safety laws.  

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