| Law & Industry Daily
Published on: Friday, October 5, 2012

CBO estimates costs of Safe Chemicals Act


WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (LID) – A proposed sweeping overhaul of federal regulation of toxic substances would result in significant administrative costs for government agencies and millions of dollars in increased costs for chemical manufacturers, a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report found.

Introduced by U.S Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the legislation seeks to retool aspects of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA; Pub.L. 94–469), most of which took effect Jan. 1, 1977.

The proposed Safe Chemicals Act would largely shift the responsibility for demonstrating the safety of substances from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to chemical manufacturers.

The CBO estimated that implementation of the Safe Chemicals Act would cost $128 million over the next five years, amid EPA’s additional administrative costs related to the bill.

Lautenberg’s proposal, outlined in S.847, would specifically require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their products in order for to enter or remain on the U.S. market. Currently, EPA may call for safety testing only amid evidence that a chemical or mixture may be dangerous.

“This new responsibility for chemical manufacturers would be accomplished primarily by increasing the amount of information about chemical toxicity and usage that they would be required to submit to EPA,” the CBO report reads.

S.847, additionally, would have the EPA “encourage and support” the development of safer alternatives to existing hazardous chemical substances.

The CBO estimated the aggregate cost of the statute’s private-sector mandates would be $146 million. Additionally, chemical makers would likely incur per-chemical costs of at least $1 million to demonstrate compliance with safety standards.

The CBO noted that its analysts cannot determine whether the aggregate cost of the intergovernmental mandates would exceed the annual threshold established in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA; Pub. L. 104-4), $73 million in 2012, adjusted annually for inflation.

The Safe Chemicals statute would increase some existing civil and criminal penalties for TSCA violations of TSCA and authorize the EPA to charge fees to chemical manufacturers.

Lautenberg, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, has decried “dangerous and costly deficiencies” in TSCA provisions that he says rise to the level of public-health risks.

Lautenberg and other proponents on Capitol Hill decry TSCA’s designation as a “high risk area” of federal law by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).

TSCA—codified at 15 U.S.C.

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