Lynn L. Bergeson, “Risky Business: Deciding Whether Chemicals Pose Risk Is Getting Really Confusing,” American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) Blog, January 27, 2023.
Chemicals are the foundational origin of just about everything we enjoy and cannot live without. The federal law that authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate industrial chemical substances is the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), an almost 47-year-old law significantly amended in 2016 by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg). Lautenberg’s passage was a bipartisan triumph marking the do-over of a law that many believed did not ensure chemical safety.
The past seven years are no cause for celebration, however, as the three different administrations that have occupied the White House since 2016 have made a mess of Lautenberg’s implementation. EPA’s recent move from a “conditions of use” approach in evaluating existing chemical risk to a “whole chemical” approach is one of many abrupt EPA policy shifts frustrating lawyers and confusing the public. TSCA litigation is plainly in our future.