February 23, 2023 – Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement on a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the bipartisan law passed in 2016 that updated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Pallone requested the report last year with other bipartisan, bicameral environmental Committee leaders to better understand what actions Congress can take to ensure EPA has the resources and tools necessary to avoid implementation delays.
“TSCA was broken before we took action to strengthen it in 2016. Now the law provides critical safeguards against toxic chemical exposures for both workers and the public, but those added protections have meant significantly more work for EPA and its staff. Today’s GAO report underscores how crucial it is to ensure EPA has the resources and infrastructure it needs to get the job done.
“This report makes Republicans’ recent efforts to undermine TSCA all the more irresponsible. EPA needs more resources to complete TSCA reviews, not a wholesale erosion of the review process itself. I’m frustrated that Republicans are working to undermine this once-bipartisan law instead of working with us to ensure EPA has what it needs to implement it. TSCA is absolutely critical to protecting our communities from exposure to toxic chemicals – efforts to weaken it are grounded solely in ideology, not reality, and put Americans’ health at risk.”
The GAO report found that EPA missed chemical review deadlines due to several contributing factors, including resource constraints and insufficient staff capacity. GAO recommended that EPA should complete workforce planning efforts to ensure the agency can recruit, develop, and retain the workforce needed to meet deadlines.
Earlier this month, Republican Committee leaders held a legislative hearing on 17 bills, including a discussion draft that would amend TSCA to allow chemicals classified as “critical energy sources” to circumvent vital public health safeguards that were passed as part of the 2016 law.
The full GAO report can be found HERE.