Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

Katie Brown (202) 224-2160                                  

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full and Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health joint hearing entitled, "Legislative Hearing on the Safe Chemicals Act."

Thursday, November 17, 2011 10:00 a.m.  

I would like to begin by thanking Senator Lautenberg for scheduling a legislative hearing on S. 847 the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.  I would also like to thank him and his staff for inviting us to co-host a series of listening sessions, which included not only our staffs, but representatives from industry and the environmental community.

The stakeholder meetings were very thoughtful and we learned a great deal from the participants.  As efforts for modernizing TSCA continue in the future, these discussions will undoubtedly help to build a foundation for eventual reforms.  The participants were candid and forthcoming with their unique viewpoints and I look forward to building agreement around some of the many challenges facing TSCA reform moving forward.

While we often heard very conflicting ideas from stakeholders on how TSCA should be modernized, we also identified a few areas of potential common ground, and I think that warrants further discussions.  Although our hearing today is on S. 847 - which has not incorporated what we learned in the stakeholder process or addressed many longstanding concerns - I am encouraged that this bill helped begin a constructive dialogue that may help lead to a workable bill which down the road could pass both the House and Senate and become law.

It is vital - given an unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent and numerous costly new regulations coming from this administration - that we make sure any TSCA reforms help to not only protect human health, but jobs and the economy.  My interest in TSCA modernization - which I have said before - is in large part due to 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.

I have consistently said that TSCA modernization must be accomplished with a broad base of support, including industry up and down the value chain.   It also must take into account the small and medium size businesses that could be affected the most if the law is updated improperly.  Our witnesses today represent a few of the stakeholders we heard from in our meetings.  They possess a wide range of perspectives on TSCA modernization and its implementation but we must not forget that there are plenty of other groups that have a strong vested interest in this effort and need to be considered as well. 

At this time I would like to ask unanimous consent to have statements from the American Cleaning Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, and the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association - all of whom also participated in the stakeholder meetings - inserted into the record.

While I believe it is time to bring this 35 year old statute into the 21st Century, it is equally as important that we do it the right way without harming American innovation or shipping jobs overseas.

My principles for reform remain the same: any modernization of TSCA should be based on the best available science; use a risk-based standard for chemical reviews; include cost-benefit considerations; protect proprietary information; and must prioritize reviews for existing chemicals.

These are principles I have stood by for many years and I think are vital to a successful TSCA modernization process that is appropriately protective, predictable, efficient, and revives confidence in our federal chemical management system.

Again, I appreciate Sen. Lautenberg's work on this issue and his willingness to gather information in a constructive, bipartisan nature.  I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today.