Better Living Through Chemicals (Regulation)? The Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 Through an Environmental Public Health Law Lens
Vermont Law School
April 10, 2014
Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, Vol. 15, p. 490, 2014
Vermont Law School Research Paper No. 7-14
The Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 (CSIA) was introduced at the end of May, 2013 as a bipartisan effort to remedy the well-documented deficiencies in regulating chemicals used in U.S. commerce. The current law in force, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (“TSCA”), barely scratches the surface of researching and setting limits on the thousands of synthetic chemicals available to manufacturers: among the approximately 85,000 commercial chemicals registered for use in the United States, only 200 have been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), and fewer than a dozen have been restricted. Notably, TSCA is the sole statute dating from the recognized heyday of federal environmental law making that has escaped significant updating in the last four decades.
The CSIA gives us the opportunity to review these critical environmental public health regulatory pivot points and analyze how new norms of environmental public health can be translated into law on point. To do so, this Article first examines the weak points in TSCA that have led to the current anemic approach. Second, it draws on commercial chemicals law made during the last forty years at the state and international levels, which has nudged Congress to structure the bipartisan bill as drafted. Third, it scrutinizes the CSIA as introduced in May, 2013 and debated throughout the remainder of the year, to assess how it addresses TSCA’s weaknesses in a manner that promotes environmental public health law norms. In this way, we can determine whether better chemicals regulation leads to better living and how environmental laws are evolving to improve public health.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49
Keywords: TSCA, commercial chemicals, toxics, environmental law, public health law, environmental public health law
JEL Classification: I18, K32
Date posted: April 12, 2014