By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On July 14, 2016, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) hosted an event in which the individuals and organizations critical to Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform, discussed the intricacies and challenges faced in drafting the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg), the amended law, and its ultimate enactment.
The panelists included John Pendergrass, VP of Programs & Publications, ELI (moderator), Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, Bergeson & Campbell, PC (B&C®), Sarah Brozena, Senior Director, Regulatory & Technical Affairs, American Chemistry Council, Richard A. Denison, Ph.D., Lead Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, David Goldston, Director of Government Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council, James J. Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), David J. McCarthy, Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Senator Tom Udall, U.S. Senate (D-NM).
The overall consensus from the panelists was that the process undertaken in getting Lautenberg passed was challenging, but also inspiring and a true group effort on both sides of the aisle. Some of the key points from the discussion included:
- On June 23, 2015, when H.R. 2576 was passed by an overwhelming 398-1, there was a great spirit of bipartisanship in the House. McCarthy observed that this spirit of bipartisanship was especially acute on June 23, a rare event in Congress these days.
- Making a strong law that could be implemented by Jones and EPA was a high priority, and Jones’ role was “absolutely indispensable,” according to Udall who also stated, “[t]he one thing we wanted to make sure we did is not to produce a law that wasn’t going to work for [Jones] and his folks over at EPA.” In answer, Jones stated that EPA Staff were “excited about implementation,” and have “hit the ground running.” The law is strong, has great potential for serious reform and applicability, and is “an elegantly written, balanced and entirely implementable law that will make the world a better place,” according to Bergeson.
- In terms of cooperation and momentum, finding champions with endurance, and rewarding that support with some compromise on bill provisions created the recipe for success. As Udall stated “[y]ou need to find champions on your environmental bills that also have political will,” who are “will to do more than just introduce a bill. They need to deal with every stakeholder.” Denison followed with “to move the bill through the legislative process – to get people to engage, to make changes in exchange for their support, and broaden that” was the only way to get the bill passed, and these actions were “not only to build support, but to sustain momentum over more than one Congress to ultimately get it done.”
More information on the event can be found in the Environment & Energy Daily article “Architects of TSCA Compromise See Hope for Polarized Congress” available online, through paid subscription. A video recording of the event and other materials from the event are available to ELI Associates on ELI’s website. ELI Associates must login to see the materials. A full analysis of Lautenberg is available in the B&C memorandum An Analysis of Key Provisions and Fundamental Shifts in the Amended TSCA.