The EPA claims it has the authority to require environmental monitoring of chemicals like silicones under the existing TSCA law. However, the EPA does not have such authority because the key section under the TSCA only applies to toxicity testing, not collecting monitoring data. Even TSCA experts such as Charles Auer, former head of the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, question whether the EPA could require a more extensive program under current law.
The EPA’s interest in obtaining real world data about silicones is understandable, but it cannot justify overstepping its authority to regulate an industry. EPA officials realize a regulatory hammer yields them more power than a handshake to regulate chemicals and silicones beyond their statutory authority.
Over the next two years, I remain hopeful that this new Congress will seek bipartisan solutions and conduct vigorous oversight of agencies exceeding authority. Members of Congress must protect and cherish their legislative power as set forth in the Constitution. Congressional inaction should not surrender legislative power to the president or federal agencies no matter how well-intended their goals.
Former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., served from 1993 to 2011 and chaired the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. He is a partner at Venable in Washington, D.C. Venable has represented chemical companies, but Stupak is not lobbying on any legislation or the issue covered in this opinion piece.