Progress Made Toward Updating TSCA

Progress Made Toward Updating TSCA, But No New Law, Yet

This first alert of 2016 contains what many see as good news. I hope the New Year is starting well for all who receive my alerts.  Let me know if you have any topics of particular interest.

On December 17, 2015, the US Senate passed a bill updating and reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). The Senate bill had bipartisan support; both industry trade associations and environmental advocacy groups welcomed the Senate’s action.

While the Senate bill’s passage is a step toward an updated and reformed TSCA, this alone does not change the law. Several months ago the US House of Representatives passed a different bill to reform TSCA.  Under long established procedures of the Senate and the House, a conference committee of members from each chamber will need to convene.  That committee’s goal will be to develop a comprehensive bill that resolves differences in the two bills, which the committee will recommend to both chambers.

If the conference committee recommends a comprehensive bill, the Senate and the House must still formally pass the same bill, and the president must sign it, in order for the bill to become law. Most observers sense that President Obama will sign a bipartisan bill that updates and modifies TSCA.  The key to getting the reform that so many seek is the Senate and the House coming together in the conference committee, developing a comprehensive bill to recommend to each chamber, and then getting the two chambers to each pass the comprehensive bill.

Given the broad bipartisan support for updating and reforming TSCA, many think we will get a new TSCA, soon, but that hope must be balanced with traditionally low expectations for Congress to do anything during a presidential election year.

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