(Washington, DC) – Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Stephanie Bice (R-OK), and Investigations & Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Jay Obernolte (R-CA) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the need for timely and consistent risk assessments under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The TSCA requires EPA to evaluate potential risks from chemicals and gives the agency power to restrict their use. EPA recently announced that they would be overhauling TSCA’s systematic review process and has indicated a desire to duplicate the process used by another EPA program – the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). For more than a decade, the IRIS program has come under fire from Congress and independent reviewers like the National Academies for its inconsistent process, lack of transparency, and failure to complete assessments in a timely fashion.
“We ask for your commitment that, in accordance with congressional intent to operate with flexibility and speed, TSCA does not fully or consistently adopt program processes or procedures implemented by IRIS,” the letter reads. “If elements developed by the IRIS Program are incorporated into TSCA, we expect the Agency to assess their benefits and impacts thoroughly, while also adhering to the statutorily prescribed deadlines and scientific standards mandated.”
“TSCA decisions affect millions of people and businesses,” Lucas said. “Builders need this information to design safe construction, farmers use it to choose effective pesticides, and manufacturers rely on it when choosing their materials. Businesses and consumers need to trust that EPA is making safe and sound decisions, so we can’t afford to use a flawed process that drags on for years.”
“While the Biden Administration has promised to make decisions using the best available science when evaluating chemical risks, changing the TSCA systemic review process to duplicate the IRIS program would be a step in the wrong direction,” Bice said. “The IRIS program has been plagued with issues, as previously reported to SST. It is my hope that the Biden Administration is committed to a fair process that will not be delayed by a desire to replicate a program that has created uncertainty for businesses, farmers and ranchers who have to accommodate burdensome regulations.”
“When developing chemical risk evaluations, it is important that the EPA uses the highest quality and best available science to keep Americans safe. It is also critical that they be able to make these recommendations in a timely manner without burdensome and potentially unwarranted processes and procedures getting in the way,” said Obernolte. “If the executive branch plans to review current EPA guidelines, I encourage them to do so with an eye towards efficiency, accuracy, and the elimination of bureaucratic red tape that stands in the way of getting the job done for the American people.”
Dear Acting Administrator Nishida: