Lawmakers on each side of the political aisle lauded a long-sought chemical oversight law after it cruised through Congress Tuesday evening.
But some experts warned in a Bloomberg report that implementing its new policies will be difficult, if not impossible, for the Environmental Protection Agency.
The legislation, which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama, would overhaul the four-decade-old and generally ineffective Toxic Substances Control Act. The measure would, in part, create new procedures and deadlines for the EPA to evaluate new and existing chemicals.
The bill secured the support of environmental and industry groups alike and moved through both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Critics, however, argued that the EPA lacks the funding and staffing to begin evaluating chemicals in a timely manner.
"It is going to take a long time, even if the administration gives the program a slug of money on day one," James Aidala, a consultant and former head of the agency's chemical safety office, told Bloomberg.
The Environmental Working Group, which was critical of the TSCA rewrite, suggested that implementing new rules for 90 "high-priority" chemicals alone would take 35 years. More than 80,000 chemicals are currently used in commerce.
Critics also questioned whether Congress would be eager to bolster EPA funding, which stagnated in recent years, and noted that the next occupant of the White House will disproportionately affect how the new law is put into effect.
Others, however, were more hopeful. One expert told Bloomberg that he expects the first rules under the bill to be implemented by 2022, and that the EPA will improve its evaluations with time.
The chairman of the American Chemistry Council, meanwhile, vowed that the chemical industry would lobby for more EPA funding to carry out the law.
Proponents of the bill added that despite the criticism, the new law remains a vast improvement over the regulations currently on the books.
"Our existing law is so broken, the EPA hasn't even been able to regulate asbestos," said co-sponsor Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.