To say we at Earthjustice are disappointed regarding the recent news that the Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn two chemical rules would be an understatement.
EPA’s decision to pull these rules is truly a shame because the proposed regulations would have increased transparency of health and safety information related to potentially dangerous chemicals. We already have detailed the many reasons why our existing chemicals law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is woefully deficient and outdated – and now this. The two rules are years-old initiatives to compile a federal “chemicals of concern” list and to reform confidentiality rules for health and safety studies related to new chemicals.
If the EPA’s latest action doesn’t concern you, here’s some more info to put this into perspective: One of the regulations would have added Bisphenol A—a chemical included in many water bottles, other plastic products and thermal receipt paper that has been linked to a number of potential health concerns—to the list of chemicals of concern. The withdrawal of the other rule allows manufacturers of new chemicals to keep hiding the names of chemicals tested in health and safety studies, even if those studies find that chemicals might have caused environmental or health impacts. This means that we, the public, won’t be able to find out which of these chemicals might be harmful!
The EPA’s reasoning? The agency told the Huffington Post the rules are: “no longer necessary.” The agency explains that it pulled these two rules because the EPA has undertaken separate work to evaluate chemical safety. But that explanation doesn’t hold much weight.
The EPA and the Office of Management and Budget were under pressure from the American Chemistry Council not to allow these proposed rules to see the light of day. The EPA’s failure to use even the limited authority it has under TSCA reinforces the fact that we need TSCA reform. TSCA needs to be revamped to ensure that in the future the EPA will fulfill its mandate to protect the American public from toxic chemicals and that the chemicals industry won’t continue to be such a black hole of information. Now, more than ever, a congressional effort to transform and replace this law must move forward.
If not, Americans will become more and more vulnerable to chemical exposure.