WASHINGTON, D.C. — On January 24, 2024, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Let me begin today by welcoming our witness, Dr. Michal Freedhoff, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Michal is no stranger to EPW – or to the issues we will discuss today – having worked on this Committee with us and also previously for Senator Markey in both the House and Senate.
“In 2016, Michal was one of the lead negotiators of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the first reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act in approximately forty years.
“A number of us worked tirelessly alongside our colleagues on and off of this committee to support the reforms in the Lautenberg Act. These reforms would help ensure that TSCA worked as Congress intended to protect the health and safety of Americans and our environment, while also allowing for innovation and competition of industry.
“The task of protecting the health of our families, communities, and environment – while also continuing to advance chemistry that enriches our lives – is no easy feat. And it takes skill and experience to navigate the complexities around implementing this law. Through TSCA, Congress has charged the EPA with this demanding responsibility.
“Since we last welcomed Dr. Freedhoff before the Committee in 2022, I want to share some of the progress that has occurred in relation to the implementation of TSCA.
“The first ten priority chemical reviews that were established in 2016 have been completed. And the Biden administration has already begun to publish proposed rules for these chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens.
“The EPA has also launched several initiatives to prioritize and streamline new chemical reviews for chemicals associated with batteries, with clean energy technologies, and with semiconductors to more quickly deploy investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
“According to the EPA, since June 2023, the agency has more than doubled the average amount of new chemical reviews that they are able to complete each month. This means EPA is addressing the backlog of chemicals awaiting review, while also reviewing new submissions.
“But, as the members of this committee have often heard me say – ‘Everything I do, I know I can do better.’ And the same is true about TSCA. As we gather here today, my hope is that this hearing will offer us an opportunity to reflect on and discuss what is working better and what can be done to further improve the implementation of this critical law.
“Let’s be clear: there is still more work to be done. The EPA needs adequate support from both Congress and the Administration to meet the expectations set into law by those of us who helped write the Lautenberg Act. As Dr. Freedhoff will highlight in her testimony, the EPA has been tasked with high expectations and a heavy workload, but has not always been equipped with the necessary funding to complete this technical work. Congress needs to ensure that the EPA has the appropriate resources to implement TSCA as intended.
“Further, we know that the EPA is updating its fees rule to be able to more effectively collect revenues from chemical manufacturers. This is an important part of the funding equation, and we look forward to hearing more from Dr. Freedhoff about this effort.
“Insufficient resources, over the course of multiple fiscal years, have led the agency to miss deadlines and delay decisions. This situation has created grievances from both those in industry pushing to get their chemicals to market and from environmental advocates eager to see harmful chemicals regulated.
“As Dr. Freedhoff will relay, the EPA is implementing the law that is written to the best of their ability. That said, we hope today’s discussion will help us determine what further actions the EPA can take, or what additional resources Congress can provide to better support the Lautenberg Act’s implementation.
“In closing, I’d like to reiterate a few things. First, I’m committed to working together with Senator Capito and all the members of this committee to ensure that we’re providing the agency with the resources it needs in fiscal year 2024. Second, we will continue to collaborate with the EPA and request transparency in the agency’s actions as they work to protect us from harmful toxins while allowing chemistry to usher in a new world of clean energy and life-saving technologies.”