Responsible Use of Chemicals Enables Semiconductor Innovation

Friday, Jul 12, 2013, 12:00pm

by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

SIA yesterday testified at a hearing of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the primary federal law governing the regulation of chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The hearing focused on the process for reviewing new chemicals, the protection of confidential business information, and the impact of the law on innovation.

The U.S. semiconductor industry relies heavily on chemicals with specific properties to enable the incredibly intricate and precise processes used to manufacture semiconductors. State-of-the-art semiconductor technology has enabled chipmakers to build transistors so small that about 200 million of them could fit on the head of a pin, with each transistor measuring about a 4,000th the width of a human hair. This level of highly advanced manufacturing is made possible, in part, by advances in the use of chemicals.

During yesterday’s testimony, SIA expressed the need for a balanced and flexible regulatory system for chemicals that protects human health and the environment while also facilitating continued innovation and the protection of intellectual property.

The current TSCA program governing chemicals regulation generally provides an effective and balanced approach. As Congress considers updating TSCA, it should ensure that regulations maintain the current risk-based approach that properly considers the intended uses of a chemical and the potential for exposure. Other important factors that Congress needs to maintain include the following: 1) reasonable timelines for regulatory approval; 2) workable data requirements; 3) appropriate regulatory exemptions; and 4) protection of confidential business information.

The responsible use of chemicals is essential for maintaining the growth and competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry. Congress must strike the right balance in chemicals regulation in order to ensure the continued strength of our industry, the broader tech sector, and the overall economy.