EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified at the Senate hearing on TSCA reform on Wednesday, December 2, 2009. The title of the hearing is “Oversight Hearing on the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act.â€
In her testimony, Jackson reiterated the EPA principles that she had introduced in late September.
First, chemicals should be reviewed against safety standards that are based on sound science and reflect risk?based criteria protective of human health and the environment. Safety standards should be driven solely by scientific evidence of risks. EPA should have the clear authority to establish safety standards that reflect the best available science while recognizing the need to assess and manage risk in the face of uncertainty.
Second, the responsibility for providing adequate health and safety information should rest on industry. Manufacturers must develop and submit the hazard, use, and exposure data demonstrating that new and existing chemicals under review are safe. If industry doesnâ€™t provide the information, EPA should have the necessary tools to quickly and efficiently require testing, or obtain other information from manufacturers that are relevant to determining the safety of chemicals, without the delays and obstacles currently in place, or excessive claims of confidential business information.
Third, EPA should have clear authority to take risk management actions when chemicals do not meet the safety standard, with flexibility to take into account a range of considerations, including childrenâ€™s health, economic costs, social benefits, and equity concerns. EPA and industry must include special consideration for exposures and effects on groups with higher vulnerabilities â€“ particularly children. For example, children ingest chemicals at a higher ratio to their body weight than adults, and are more susceptible to long?term damage and developmental problems. Our new principles offer them much stronger protections.
Fourth, EPA should have clear authority to set priorities for conducting safety reviews. In all cases, EPA and chemical producers must act on priority chemicals in a timely manner, with firm deadlines to maintain accountability. This will not only assure prompt protection of health and the environment, but provide business with the certainly that it needs for planning and investment.
Fifth, we must encourage innovation in green chemistry, and support research, education, recognition, and other strategies that will lead us down the road to safer and more sustainable chemicals and processes. All of this must happen with transparency and concern for the publicâ€™s right to know.
Finally, implementation of the law should be adequately and consistently funded, in order to meet the goal of assuring the safety of chemicals, and to maintain public confidence that EPA is meeting that goal. To that end, manufacturers of chemicals should support the costs of Agency implementation, including the review of information provided by manufacturers.
Jackson acknowledged that coming up with a new law will take time. So she noted that she had instructed Steve Owens to use all the current authority TSCA gives EPA very aggressively. Starting with completing and making public a series of â€œaction plansâ€ for the chemicals which will outline the risks that the use of these chemicals may present and what steps we may take to address those concerns.
More on the hearings to come.