The Lautenberg Act is Enacted, Providing Significant Reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act

On June 22, 2016 President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act) which took effect immediately, amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This represents the first major environmental legislation in over two decades and significantly changes the way chemical substances are managed in the United States.

Under the Lautenberg Act, major reforms include:

  • Requires EPA to prioritize and evaluate existing chemicals with set and enforceable deadlines.
  • Requires EPA to evaluate chemicals with a new risk-based safety standard.
  • Enhances EPA’s authority to require development of chemical testing necessary to support these risk evaluations.
  • Requires EPA to make affirmative finding on new chemicals, or new uses of existing chemicals, before they can be placed in the marketplace.
  • Increases public transparency for chemical information, limiting the information that can be claimed confidential, as well as giving states, and health and environmental professionals access to confidential information.
  • Explicit requirement to protect vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women.
  • Required the EPA to reduce and replace animal testing where possible with alternative testing strategies.
  • Providing a consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out their new responsibilities.

Since the legislation was passed, EPA has developed three rules to meet its requirements under the Lautenberg Act. These rules are currently available for public input. They include:

(1) Risk-Based Prioritization Procedural Rule

This proposed rule outlines the risk-based screening process for designating chemical substances as high-priority (thereby requiring risk-evaluation) or low-priority (for which risk evaluations are not warranted).

(2) Risk Evaluation Procedural Rule

This proposed rule outlines the process EPA will use to complete risk-evaluations for high-priority and industry-requested chemicals.

(3) Rule Establishing Fees for the Administration of TSCA

This proposed rule outlines the collection of fees from companies to help cover the cost of administering the Lautenberg Act.

The deadline for comment on these rules has now passed, and the EPA intends to propose the rules in December of 2016 so they can be finalized by June, 2017, allowing the EPA to meet its required deadlines under the Lautenberg Act.