Chemicals:

American Chemistry Council's Dooley calls for reform of toxic substances law

In a significant step, the American Chemistry Council recently called for the modernization of the 33-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to reflect the latest scientific research. During today's OnPoint, ACC President Cal Dooley makes the case for reforming the law and explains why changes are needed to boost consumer confidence. He comments on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's role in the discussions on TSCA reform. Dooley also gives his industry's take on the recently released Waxman-Markey climate and energy draft bill.

Transcript

Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to the show. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council. Cal, it's great to have you back on the show.

Cal Dooley: Thank you Monica. I'm delighted to be here.

Monica Trauzzi: Cal, there's been a lot of talk in the chemicals community and in Congress recently about reforming and modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act and ACC has taken some pretty significant steps, pushing for the law to be reformed. Why is it so important for this to happen now?

Cal Dooley: Well, I think when you look back the Toxic Control Act was actually created and established in 1976, over 30 years ago. In the last 30 years you've seen significant improvements in technology and science that need to be better incorporated into how we're evaluating the safety of our chemicals. So the American Chemistry Council and our board has made one of our highest priorities is how can we effectively modernize TSCA? Modernize our chemical management system, so that a consumer that's going into whatever store to purchase a cell phone, to purchase a food item, to purchase a detergent or a household cleaner has absolute confidence that those chemicals that were a part of those products were, in fact, evaluated appropriately and were assessed as being safe.

Monica Trauzzi: What accounts though for ACC's shift in tone on the issue?

Cal Dooley: Well, I think we realize that we have an opportunity to enhance our present system and we're also seeing evidence of states that are lacking confidence in the system as it is currently being deployed. We also are seeing instances where consumers, unfortunately, don't have the confidence and the safety of some of the products. And when consumers are rejecting some products because of safety concerns, that is in many ways a commentary and a reflection that they don't have the confidence that our regulatory structure and system for assessing those chemicals and those products are safe, is effective. And so as an industry, we need utmost to have a regulatory system and structure that is ensuring that they have the adequate amount of data to assess the safety, that we are providing the appropriate level of transparency to that data, but we are then able to clearly demonstrate through the investments in the effort of the private sector and our member companies, as well as the work of our regulatory agencies that we're able to demonstrate to consumers that there's been a thorough evaluation of these products and that they are, in fact, safe for use.

Monica Trauzzi: So, there's a financial element here too. I mean if there's more consumer confidence your companies will benefit from a financial standpoint?

Cal Dooley: Absolutely, if we effectively modernize the way we're evaluating the safety of our chemicals it's a win for consumers in that they have greater confidence and it's a win for industry as well because we'll have greater certainty that we have a regulatory process that can effectively assess the safety of the products that we're putting on store shelves.

Monica Trauzzi: Are there certain elements of the current law that are worth keeping? I mean overall does it provide a solid structure or is it worth just revamping whole thing?

Cal Dooley: Well, no, that's why we use the term modernizing TSCA, because TSCA is doing an effective job now. That's not to say that it can't be enhanced and that's the approach that we're taking. What we're also suggesting is that we've seen actions in other parts of the world to try to enhance their chemical management system. You have the EU that instituted what they refer to as a Reach Program. You have Canada's health plan that is put together on a chemical evaluation program in Canada. We think we're at the point now that we need to be identifying the things that are working very well in TSCA. Also looking at some of the positive attributes of Reach, as well as the Canadian system, and how can we collectively bring all those together in one new modern system that can be most effective, again, in ensuring the safety, and also be efficient to ensure that we can bring innovative and new products to the marketplace in an efficient manner.

Monica Trauzzi: Could the industry be negatively impacted if this modernization reform of TSCA is taken too far?

Cal Dooley: Well, absolutely. We need to have a science-based approach and what we are advocating is that you still have to approach these issues in terms of chemical management, from a risk-based approach, which is built upon a solid foundation of science. We need to have a science-based approach, which, again, tries to determine which chemicals should be of the greatest concern. And that's where we ought to be prioritizing and allocating the greatest amount of the industry's capacity and the regulatory agency's capacity to assessing those chemicals and those materials that pose the greatest concern of a health or safety consequence. And this will allow us, again, to be more efficient and also to be focusing our resources where we have the greatest concerns.

Monica Trauzzi: How has EPA administrator Lisa Jackson influenced the discussion over this issue?

Cal Dooley: Well, we were delighted that one of the first public speeches that Lisa Jackson gave after she was appointed or confirmed by the Senate was to our Board of Directors in the American Chemistry Council. We were also pleased that during the early days of Lisa Jackson's tenure at EPA she identified five priorities which number three was a modernization of our chemical management system or TSCA. We also have a great deal of confidence in Administrator Jackson too because she is a chemical engineer by training and also with her work in New Jersey with the state. She had a lot of experience in dealing with these issues, so she is in a unique position because of her academic background, her professional experience, and her position as an administrator of EPA to bring the multiple stakeholders together in a process to build a consensus on how we can effectively modernize TSCA.

Monica Trauzzi: What are your expectations for how quickly Congress may move on this this year? I mean they have many legislative priorities to work on. Where does this fall in the ranking?

Cal Dooley: Well, I spent 14 years in Congress and I learned during my tenure in Congress that if you can have multiple stakeholders, in this case of TSCA reform, if you can have the chemical industry come together with our other allied stakeholders in the value chain, which could be the cosmetics, it could be disinfectants, it could be soap and detergents, it could be paints and coatings. If we come together in a line on a set of principles and we also are able to reach out and engage some of the consumer community and the environmental community and narrow our differences, is that we can help influencing the timing and the scheduling of this issue before Congress. And so what the American Chemistry Council is committed to is moving aggressively, reaching out and working and collaborating with multiple stakeholders in order to try to achieve the greatest level of consensus on what a modernization would look like. And then hopefully be able to encourage Congress to act relatively quickly, hopefully, within this year, but I understand the schedule is a little bit crowded at this point in time.

Monica Trauzzi: Switching gears, one of the issues that Congress will be taking up this year is likely to be cap and trade. I wanted to get your thoughts on the Waxman-Markey draft that was recently released on energy and climate. Does it reach the goals that ACC has laid out for a cap and trade?

Cal Dooley: Well, the American Chemistry Council and our members are very proud of the role we can play in reducing greenhouse gases. Since 1990 we have actually reduced our own emissions within our industry by over 13 percent, which would exceed the Kyoto protocols. We are going to be for any cap and trade or policy or other policy, maybe it's a carbon tax policy that will effectively reduce greenhouse gases in an appropriate way which doesn't negatively impact our ability to compete internationally. The draft that Congressman Waxman and Congressman Markey introduced I think has some positive components of it. We have some questions in terms of how you would address the allocation of some of the emissions credits, how you will ensure that we're having the appropriate investment in new technologies to ensure that we're expanding our energy supply domestically. You know, we have some questions in terms of how do you ensure that we don't have an issue of leakage? And what I mean by leakage is the shift of some businesses, and maybe even some of my chemistry companies that we represent in the United States, to other developing countries that don't have as stringent of environment laws in place, if you impose a cap-and-trade bill that doesn't find a way to ensure that we have a commitment from all companies that are in the business of chemistry.

Monica Trauzzi: A big debate ahead on that.

Cal Dooley: You bet.

Monica Trauzzi: We'll end it right there. Thanks for coming on the show.

Cal Dooley: All right, thank you.

Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

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