Senate environment committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is now saying she will seek to revise a bipartisan bill introduced by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to include provisions that Lautenberg precluded from the bill after industry criticized them.
Apparently, Sen. Boxer one of the most aggressively anti-chemical members of the Senate was not entirely thrilled with the final revision of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), although she (along with the late Sen. Lautenberg, whose mission of reforming the 1976 law seemed to have been fulfilled on his deathbed) was among those pushing for reform over the past five years or more. The revised law, called the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), was hammered out with compromises galore from both the anti-chemical group and those who believed the old law was pretty good but were willing to go along to some extent. These members were being led by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), with the cooperation of the chemical industry trade association, the American Chemistry Council. This hammering took up a lot of time and effort, with give-and-take on both sides.
Now Sen. Boxer, apparently unaware of these dealings, has decided to give the proposal a little tweak, or maybe a few little tweaks, and hope that no one will notice. Good luck with that! But wait: Another roadblock toward final passage has appeared, as it seems that California s toxics agency is also concerned (why is this hesitation coming from California? no need to answer) that the bipartisan CSIA would weaken the state s own chemical control programs, and is calling for a series of amendments to strengthen the bill. Like their senior Senator, they seem blithely unaware (or just don t care) that the crucial compromises made by all parties are not amenable to tinkering at this late stage.
At the end of the day, the original TSCA law worked just fine, despite all the whines from the hyper-precautionary chemophobes; thus, no one will be harmed if the revised version is jettisoned due to the meddling of dissatisfied lawmakers and regulators. Except perhaps the shade of Sen. Lautenberg, who would be peeved to say the least to see his iconic bill so callously dissipated by the whims of his former colleagues.