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U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) announced May 22 a bipartisan agreement to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
According to the senators, the legislation would significantly update and improve TSCA, which has proven ineffective and is criticized by both the public health community and industry. The Lautenberg-Vitter legislation would, for the first time, ensure that all chemicals are screened for safety to protect public health and the environment.
“This bipartisan agreement is an historic step toward meaningful reform that protects American families and consumers. Every parent wants to know that the chemicals used in everyday products have been proven safe, but our current chemical laws fail to give parents that peace of mind,” said Senator Lautenberg, who first introduced legislation to reform TSCA in 2005. “Our bipartisan bill would fix the flaws with current law and ensure that chemicals are screened for safety.”
Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical may be dangerous. As a result, EPA has only been able to require testing for roughly 200 of the more than 84,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances since TSCA was first enacted in 1976. These shortfalls led the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify TSCA as a “high risk” area of the law in 2009.
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“Our bill strikes the right balance between strengthening consumer confidence in the safety of chemicals, while also promoting innovation and the growth of an important sector of our economy,” said Senator Vitter, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. “Chemical manufacturing is a big part of Louisiana’s economy and across the country, and the Chemical Safety Improvement Act establishes a program that should provide confidence to the public and consumers, by giving the EPA the tools it needs to make critical determinations while providing a more transparent process. The benefit of such a system is that industry should also have more confidence that the federal system works to facilitate innovation and grow our economy.”