TSCA Reform: Implications of 2014 US Mid-Term Elections

    November 2014

    As a result of the combination earlier this year of Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders to form Squire Patton Boggs, we have dramatically expanded the public policy capabilities we offer our clients. The November 4, 2014 elections provided an opportunity to focus on one aspect of particular interest to the chemicals industry – the prospects for modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

    We believe that the TSCA could be improved significantly by the change in leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.

    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) used her position as EPW Chair during the past Congress to block a bipartisan TSCA reform bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), co-authored by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and David Vitter (R-LA) and co-sponsored by more than two dozen Senators. Senators Udall and Vitter have indicated that they intend to introduce TSCA reform legislation again in the next Congress, and supporters of the CSIA, including the American Chemistry Council and other business groups, have stated publicly that they will renew their push for a bill. While Senator Boxer will continue to be in a position as Ranking Member to oppose any bill that does not address her concerns, including preemption of state chemical laws, there appears to be a bipartisan majority on the committee willing to support TSCA reform legislation. Additionally, although Senator Vitter likely will not serve as Chairman (and also may be occupied by his planned run for Governor in Louisiana), he has expressed his continued commitment to passing a bill. Moreover, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the likely new Chairman, cosponsored the CSIA and has expressed support for TSCA reform.

    Likewise, in the House, Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) is expected to lead the TSCA reform effort again in his capacity as Chairman of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee.

    Under Rep. Shimkus’ leadership, the subcommittee held a series of hearings on TSCA issues during the past Congress. Chairman Shimkus prepared a “discussion draft” of a TSCA reform bill for review by E&C Committee members (although no formal legislation was ever introduced). Some Democrat Members of the Committee, led by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), sought changes to key provisions of the discussion draft, but with his retirement, the prospects for a compromise bill in the new Congress may be enhanced. Moreover, if it appears that the new Senate majority will pass TSCA reform legislation, the likelihood for movement of a TSCA reform bill in the House also would increase.

    To help you get a better sense of what the overall congressional mid-term elections could mean for your business in the US in the next two years, we have prepared an analysis of the election results in our 2014 Mid-Term Congressional Analysis.

    We look forward to using our broader capabilities to help you achieve your global public policy objectives and help you advance your business and strategic interests in Washington DC and around the world. For more details on TSCA Reform, please contact one of the lawyers listed in this publication.