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Chemical Bill Has Potential for Bipartisan Success | Commentary

Politics on Capitol Hill can often be as fickle as a Washington, D.C., weather forecast. However, once every blood-red moon, we see members of Congress work carefully and deliberately to introduce true bipartisan legislation — which is precisely what U.S. Representative John Shimkus, R-Ill., is doing with the draft Chemicals in Commerce Act, proposed legislation to reform the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act.

CICA is a clear improvement over the status quo and its latest iteration is a testament to the fact that progress can be made in this Congress. Yet, even with Shimkus’ continued efforts to introduce a bipartisan bill, outside critics continue to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

We all agree TSCA should be reformed. Over a number of years, my association and others have testified on how that reform should look. Never before have we had this much momentum.

However, just like any large policy issue we understand everyone has their own “best solution” to the problem. There are certainly parts of the bill that we have concerns over and we shared that perspective at Tuesday’s hearing. That said, continued opposition by TSCA critics, paired with the dissemination of inaccurate information — rather than a willingness to move forward in a collaborative way — is incredibly counterproductive.

Staunch opponents to CICA fail to recognize the many other laws that regulate chemicals and uses before differentiating them from the universe of chemicals under TSCA. They also conveniently overlook the fact that most chemicals do, in fact, have information on them allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to ascertain safety. In fact, the latest draft of CICA enhances the EPA’s data-collecting ability. I would think critics would see this as a massive improvement.

The fate of TSCA reform is as important to us in the chemical industry, as it is to the American consumer and to the future of our environment. We understand that oftentimes change happens one fiber at a time. If we are ever to see viable reforms to TSCA enacted, we must realize that it will never be all things to all people. CICA is a vehicle for balanced TSCA reform and for discussing critical issues in the chemical space. We appreciated the opportunity to testify on the merits and improvements to this bill and look forward to our continued work with members of Congress across the political spectrum.

William E. Allmond is the vice president, government and public relations, for the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.