Legislators set agenda for change to target the chemical industry

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Regulations are expected to target the chemical industry in 2009. The new Administration and Congress promise an eventful new year — It may result in significant changes in direction for regulation of chemicals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here’s a look at possible trends.

Congressional Priorities

Congress will continue to have a significant impact on shaping EPA priorities. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is expected to remain chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and continue to press EPA for strong environmental protection. The surprising ascent by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to chair, House Energy and Commerce Committee, signals a significant shift toward more aggressive proposals on energy and environmental protection.

Legislative Priorities

Chemical control legislation will be a priority directly pertinent to chemical manufacturers and processors, but isn’t expected to take center stage until climate change is addressed. There’s already renewed emphasis on chemical testing and control with EPA’s launch of the Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) and its two key component parts, the Inventory Reset Program and the Inorganic High Production Volume (IHPV) Challenge Program.

The existing template is the Kid Safe Chemical Act re-introduced in May 2008 by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and others. It includes provisions that are unlikely to be in any final legislation. This could change current law to require more testing and use-specific evaluations, and be imposed on new and existing chemicals.

National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Reauthorization legislation also is likely to be revisited very early in the 111th Congress. It passed the House in the 110th Congress and could be reintroduced with perhaps an even greater emphasis on environmental, health, and safety research funding in light of the National Research Council’s negative response to the federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research.

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