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Will Green/Sustainable Chemistry Provisions Survive Final TSCA Reform?
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There is still no definitive answer as to whether the green/sustainable chemistry provisions in S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, will survive the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives conference committee process as lawmakers confer and prepare the final compromise legislation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform bill.  Passed by the Senate on December 17, 2015, S.697 includes sustainable chemistry provisions in Section 27 entitled “Development and Evaluation of Test Methods and Sustainable Chemistry.”  The TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576), which passed the House of Representatives on June 23, 2015, has no sustainable or green chemistry provisions and takes a much narrower view on TSCA reform.  The sustainable chemistry section in S. 697 has been substantially amended from the approach outlined in the previous version of S. 697 passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June 2015.  These sustainable provisions were initially introduced in May 2015 in a green chemistry bill, S. 1446, by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  S. 697 does not include all of the provisions from S. 1446, such as a grant program to fund sustainable chemistry partnerships between industry and universities, and a National Academy of Sciences study, but does include funding, research, and support of green chemistry issues.  The sustainable chemistry provisions in S. 697 are as follows:

  • The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is to convene a National Coordinating Entity (Entity) for Sustainable Chemistry made up of various federal entities and chaired by the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development (ORD).  The Entity has several duties, including:
    • Those related to establishing the Sustainable Chemistry Initiative (described in detail in Section 27(d));
    • Development of a national strategy for sustainable chemistry;
    • Supporting establishment, through financial, technical, and other assistance, of partnerships between academia, non-governmental organizations, and companies to advance research, training, development of curricular materials and courses, etc.;
    • Reporting to Congress two years after enactment of S. 697 on the Entity’s efforts and progress; and
    • Submitting an implementation plan for sustainable chemistry to Congress three years after enactment.

Inside EPA has reported that Senator Coons is speaking with key members to allow the provisions to stay in through the compromise conferences.  Inside EPA also reported that Senator Coons held a January 13, 2016, Capitol Hill briefing to garner support for the provisions, and that speakers at the briefing outlined the following green chemistry goals:

  • To change the way chemists are taught to think about chemistry choices, to include an understanding of toxicology and environmental sciences, so that sustainability considerations inform all chemistry decisions;
  • To develop novel chemical products and processes that are less hazardous than, and cost and performance competitive with, traditional technologies;
  • To develop a deeper understanding of toxicological properties and mechanisms to inform chemistry decisions and design; and
  • To recognize the fundamental limitations related to material selection and move to renewable or abundant resources as starting materials.

More information on S. 697 and how it compares with the previous version of the bill as well as with H.R. 2576 are available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) memorandum TSCA Reform:  Detailed Summary of Key Changes in Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697) as Compared with S. 697 Passed by Senate EPW in June.  Please also see B&C’s 2016 Forecast memorandum Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2016 for further analysis and discussion of likely legislative next steps regarding TSCA reform.