Assuming that the Commission does not vote to again extend it, the period for filing comments on its proposal to permanently ban certain phthalates closes in a few days. At that point the monkey will be really on the back of the agency and none of its choices are very good.
Because the way the statute was written, the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) that Congress directed the agency establish to study the health effects of phthalates, without strong direction from the management of the agency, easily could move into policy issues and this is what has happened with its recommendations. If the agency holds with the recommendations of the CHAP, it faces sure, and probably successful, litigation at the end of the process. If it tries to walk back the CHAP recommendations, it gets accused of disregarding “scientific” recommendations protecting children. A real no-win for the agency.
I have written before in this blog about the serious regulatory policy issues that the phthalates rulemaking raises. For those who are interested in this issue and those who are concerned about the use of cumulative risk assessments, I wanted to bring to your attention an article I authored that appeared today in The Hill Congress Blog publication. You can find it here.
Should Congress decide to do oversight of the CPSC, there are a number of issues that need examining. This issue should be added to the list.