Shook, Hardy & Bacon Washington D.C. Partner Phil Goldberg authored an article for The Hill titled, “Are Federal Agencies Putting Science Over Fear-Mongering?,” weighing in on the reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The successful reform of the TSCA is a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, along with environmentalists and chemical manufacturers, who all “unified behind a common regulatory vision: chemical regulation must be based on scientific risk alone,” Goldberg explains. The act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "to integrate scientific determinations of a chemical’s hazard, use and exposure potential so that facts, not political or fear-based agendas, are the driving force behind chemical regulations.”
While this “fact-driven approach sounds obvious,” Goldberg notes that “it has not always been the driving force for regulations, regardless of which party is in power.” Goldberg examines a case in which computer-based modeling is used as a tool to determine potential environmental impacts of siloxane disposal. Although the model’s findings were not based on real results and was found to be based on the wrong analytical foundation, European regulators decided to restrict siloxanes.
In comparison, EPA instructed siloxane manufacturers to gather samples at 14 sites, including four manufacturing or processing sites and nine wastewater treatment plants, to determine if the model's warnings have merit.
Goldberg concludes by commending EPA for making decisions based on scientific facts. "Coupling studies that may not be fully on-point with alarmist rhetoric have become powerful tools of groups that oppose chemicals and other new technologies,” he writes. “Hopefully this example of evidence-based legislation can lay the foundation for a return to public problem-solving in Washington, regardless of who wins this year’s elections.”