The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Renewable chemicals are emerging at a fast pace, paving the way for new, innovative, and sustainable biobased products. The renewable chemicals’ market is estimated to reach $83.4 billion by 2018 in applications ranging from transportation and agriculture to textiles and cosmetics. In addition to all the elements great companies need to succeed -- a great product, a great brand, inspiring leadership, and vision -- biobased product companies need to understand how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) occupies a virtual seat at their management table, whether or not they know it.  

An article by BRAG in the August 2013 issue of Industrial Biotechnology, available online, lays out the regulatory challenges the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) presents to biobased and renewable chemical products and the rationale behind the formation of BRAG.  Through strategic insight into regulatory and legislative issues, collective advocacy on Capitol Hill and before EPA, education and training opportunities, and hands-on guidance from a deep bench of TSCA legal and scientific policy experts, BRAG is removing obstacles to commercialization for its members.


 

On July 31, 2013, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing on "Strengthening Public Health Protections by Addressing Toxic Chemical Threats." The exceptionally long hearing included three panels of 19 witnesses and focused on potential reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). The detailed report of the hearing issued by Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. is available online.


The hearing largely focused on bipartisan legislation to reform TSCA, recently introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) -- S. 1009, the "Chemical Safety Improvement Act" (CSIA). A Law360 article recently published by Lynn Bergeson contains a detailed discussion of the significance and provisions of this legislation. With 25 bipartisan co-sponsors, CSIA is "a potentially politically viable framework for TSCA reform and renewed hope that badly needed modernization of this ancient law may occur."


Any legislative vehicle to reform TSCA will need to go through the EPW Committee. While many believe the CSIA represents a bipartisan move in the right direction toward TSCA reform, Chair Boxer does not support the legislation as written. She is concerned about its potential to preempt Proposition 65, California's law to regulate unsafe chemicals. During Wednesday's hearing, several witnesses opposed to CSIA in its current form expressed similar preemption concerns, as well as concerns that the bill could provide chemical companies too much protection from requirements to release confidential business information and fail to protect vulnerable populations. Proponents argued that the bill would not preempt state laws until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made a safety determination.


Senator Vitter and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) are working to move CSIA forward through the legislative process. They have committed to work to address the concerns raised at this week's hearing in the version of CSIA which may be voted on by the EPW Committee later this year. Their revised version of the bill, or manager's amendment, is expected to be released early this fall, after the August Congressional recess.

 

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