Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) amendments.
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman Carper, and welcome back to the committee, Dr. Freedhoff. It’s nice to have you here.
“Today, we’re holding a hearing, as the chairman as said, on EPA’s ongoing implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.
“In 2016, Congress overhauled the TSCA program, strengthening EPA’s authority to evaluate and regulate new and existing chemicals.
“These were a significant bipartisan achievement.
“Among other changes, the revised TSCA program established legally enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions.
“These deadlines are a key facet of the new TSCA, and one I’d like to particularly focus on with today’s hearing.
“Since being confirmed in your role, you have repeatedly stated, including in your testimony today, that a lack of resources is the reason EPA has repeatedly missed statutory deadlines.
“With regards to existing chemicals, you have said: ‘[I]t shouldn’t come as a surprise that we expect to miss every single deadline for the final risk management rules for these first 10 evaluations, and every single deadline for the next 20 risk evaluations.’
“I want to be clear: It does come as a bit of a surprise to hear blanket pronouncements like this, in particular when the appropriations EPA has received over the last few years have been developed through a bipartisan way.
“You have repeatedly blamed the root cause of TSCA delays on the prior administration ‘gutting the program.’
“But, we are now 18 months into the Biden administration.
“Compared to 2016, you have dozens more full-time equivalent employees working within the TSCA program and user fees have risen by over 600%.
“In 2021, EPA issued 146 final determinations on new chemical submissions – fewer than any year of the prior administration.
“Even the Obama administration, which was tasked with standing up an entire new TSCA program, issued 92 determinations from June 23, 2016 until the end of its final year in office.
“In contrast, as of last month, your office has issued final determinations only 23 times for 2022 submissions over a comparable amount of time.
“That is really the crux of the issue we’ll be talking about today.
“Previous administrations were able to do more with fewer resources.
“The question is: Why is that?
“It seems that internal policy changes to the TSCA program are undermining EPA’s ability to meet its statutory obligations.
“Ten risk evaluations finalized between June 2020 and January 2021 have all now been reopened, adding to a more supposedly already overstretched staff’s plate.
“According to your previous statements, impacted communities will now have to wait until at least 2025 to see an eventual risk management rule for these high-priority chemical substances.
“In your requests for more robust funding to the TSCA program, you continually point to the increased workload your office faces.
“It seems to me that a lot of that workload is self-generated mission creep of the TSCA program that’s not required by statute.
“Under the Biden EPA, risk evaluations must now include exposure pathways covered by other EPA-administered statutes like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, as well as assess fence line community exposures.
“Your office has revised risk evaluation models to make highly questionable assumptions that OSHA standards are insufficient and that workers are not routinely wearing PPE.
“Finally, the agency is no longer issuing risk findings for individual conditions of use, but is adopting a ‘whole chemical’ approach.
“Taken together, these policy changes have created a situation where existing chemicals under review will almost certainly face an unreasonable risk determination going forward.
“This expansion of your office’s work beyond what TSCA requires has exacerbated the workload issues and is at odds with the intent of the statute.
“In addition, it seems staff resources have been diverted to programs without existing authorizations, like IRIS and Safer Choice, with EPA prioritizing elective programs over statutorily authorized programs.
“I don’t have to tell you think, but in today’s turbulent economic times, the importance of reliable, efficient domestic supply chains for key technologies like semiconductors and batteries has become increasingly apparent.
“Even feedstocks essential for the Biden administration’s renewable energy priorities, like batteries and solar panels, are being held in regulatory limbo.
“Delays in approving new chemical submissions directly impact our economic and national security and ultimately will help fuel inflation and scarcity.
“We can all agree that everybody will benefit from getting TSCA implementation on track.
“I look forward to hearing what specific actions you plan to take administratively, beyond just requesting additional resources, to fulfill the office’s statutory obligations in a timely and cost-effective manner.
“Thank you. I yield back.”
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