Just earlier today, President Obama signed H.R.2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, into law (also commonly referred to as the TSCA [Toxic Substances Control Act] Reform legislation). A link to the legislation that was sent to the White House for the President’s signature: https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr2576/BILLS-114hr2576enr.pdf
Obviously, the new act does not come without concerns, as legislative analyses by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition and by EDF indicate. (Links below.)
Regardless, it is difficult to understate the historic nature of this legislation. First, the Lautenberg Act updates the 1976 TSCA, which has not undergone a fundamental revision since its original enactment some 4 decades ago. Many countries, especially the European Union system with its REACH system, have long ago put far more modern regulatory systems into place. Second, it should make it far easier for EPA to do its regulatory job addressing the safety of chemicals since the legislation changes the legal standard that has essentially stalled much regulatory actions. Since 1991, a federal appellate court decision in the Corrosion Proof Fittings case interpreted a provision to essentially halt EPA’s efforts to regulate asbestos. Third, and most importantly from a big-picture environmental politics perspective, this is the first major piece of environmental reform legislation that the Congress has enacted since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, more than a quarter century ago. Consider that as an indication of how dysfunctional the federal legislative process has been over the past decades with respect to the environmental issues!