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States to Feds: Don’t Wreck States’ Chemical Rules with TSCA Reform

chemical warning signAs the bill that will reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 moves closer to final passage, 12 state attorneys general are urging US lawmakers to protect states’ efforts to regulate toxic chemicals.

Both the US Senate and House of Representatives passed bills last year that aim to overhaul the TSCA. The two bills are now being reconciled in conference committee.

Attorneys general from California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington submitted a joint letter to Congress that highlights the role states play in chemical regulation.

“California’s environmental standards lead the nation in protecting our residents from harmful chemicals and pollutants, and my office has fought diligently to enforce them,” said California attorney general Kamala Harris in a statement. “As Congress moves closer to reforming the Toxic Substance Control Act, it is critical that states’ ability to protect communities from toxic chemicals is not preempted.”

The letter says the existing TSCA and the House bill avoid problematic “regulatory void preemption,” and provide a traditional two-part waiver standard that the federal government, states and the courts have ample experience implementing. In these areas, the Senate bill’s language introduces the risk of regulatory void preemption and unnecessarily complicates the waiver process, it says.

The letter also explains that both the House and Senate have made significant progress in addressing the attorneys general’s principles regarding the state-federal relationship. For example, both bills allow states to co-enforce federal standards through the adoption of identical requirements in state law; preserve longstanding state chemicals programs such as California’s Proposition 65 from preemption; and exempt from preemption state water quality, air quality and waste treatment or disposal laws. The letter offers specific reasoning and recommendations for reconciling the language of the House and Senate Bills.

Photo Credit: chemical warning sign via Shutterstock


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