The Life of Laws

The Center.

This past Friday, I was in Washington, present the first of our findings from our year long oral history project of the Toxic Substances Control Act. I was joined by Jessica Schifano from the University of Massachusetts Lowell's Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the American Association for the Advancement of Science as part of our speaker series with the AAAS.

The focus of our project has been to better understand the ways in which the specific history of TSCA needs to be properly accounted for if reform efforts currently underway are to succeed. To that end, my colleague Kavita Hardy and I interviewed twelve individuals tied to the process as either authors of the original statute or involved in its implementation at EPA. While we relied on interviews for our material, Jessica Schifano and her colleagues at Lowell went straight to the archives in order to follow rule making procedures, congressional hearings, and official EPA reports. The results have been illuminating—offering ways to better understand not just how laws are written, but how they live and evolve over time.

The presentation reached an audience of NGO and industry advocates, government staff, policy fellows, and academics. More importantly, perhaps, we identified more individuals who were involved in the early days of TSCA formation and implementation giving the story a chance to expand.

In the coming months, we’ll be hosting a series of events highlighting our findings, including an opportunity to hear from several of the individuals we’ve interviewed for a public witnessing of TSCA across the decades and a webinar outlining some of the findings presented at the AAAS. We’ll also be publishing our findings and making our interviews a part of the growing CHF oral history archive. Check back on our project page for event updates.

Posted In: History | Policy

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