Thomas McGarity's July 31, 2013, testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee about the Chemical Safety Improvement Act's preemption provisions.
Despite 40 years of regulatory effort, chemical regulation in the United States has been a dismal failure, and our current law – the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – deserves much of the blame for this regulatory dysfunction. When Congress enacted TSCA, the final legislation reflected a deal under which chemicals then on the market were “grandfathered” in, while new chemicals would be subject to a quick review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But experience shows that a vast majority of those reviews are based on inadequate data.
In his 2011 book, Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants, published by Harvard Univesity Press, CPR Member Scholar Carl Cranor offers up a scientifically rigorous legal analysis arguing that just as pharmaceuticals and pesticides cannot be sold without pre-market testing, other chemical products should be subject to the same safety measures. Cranor shows, in terrifying detail, what risks we run, while making clear that it is entirely possible to design a less dangerous commercial world.
Reasonable people disagree about the reach of the federal government, but almost everyone believes the government should protect us from such dangers as bacteria-infested food, harmful drugs, toxic pollution, crumbling bridges, and unsafe toys. And yet, the agencies that shoulder these responsibilities are in shambles; if they continue to decline, lives will be lost, money wasted, and natural resources squandered. In their 2010 book, The People's Agents and the Battle to Protect the Public: Special Interests, Government, and Threats to Health, Safety, and the Environment, Rena Steinzor and Sidney Shapiro take a hard look at the tangled web of problems that have led to the dire state of the American regulatory structure.