US Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) say they have a groundbreaking, bipartisan agreement to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and ensure the safety of everyday consumer products to better protect American families. According to the Senators, their 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, while also creating an environment where manufacturers can continue to innovate, grow and create jobs.
The Lautenberg-Vitter “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Charles Schumer (D-NY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Tom Udall (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Boozman (R-AR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and John Hoeven (R-ND).
The Lautenberg-Vitter “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” would:
Require Safety Evaluations for All Chemicals: All active chemicals in commerce must be evaluated for safety and labeled as either “high” or “low” priority chemical based on potential risk to human health and the environment. For high priority chemicals, EPA must conduct further safety evaluations.
Protect Public Health from Unsafe Chemicals: If a chemical is found to be unsafe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the necessary authority to take action. This can range from labeling requirements to the full phase-out or ban of a chemical.
Prioritize Chemicals for Review:The Environmental Protection Agency will have to transparently assess risk, determine safety, and apply any needed measures to manage risks.
Screen New Chemicals for Safety: New chemicals entering the market must be screened for safety and the EPA is given the authority to prohibit unsafe chemicals from entering the market.
Secure Necessary Health and Safety Information: The legislation allows EPA to secure necessary health and safety information from chemical manufacturers, while directing EPA to rely first on existing information to avoid duplicative testing.
Promote Innovation and Safer Chemistry: This legislation provides clear paths to getting new chemistry on the market and protects trade secrets and intellectual property from disclosure.
Protect Children and Pregnant Women:The legislation requires EPA to evaluate the risks posed to particularly vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women, when evaluating the safety of a chemical—a provision not included in existing law.
Give States and Municipalities a Say: States and local governments will have the opportunity to provide input on prioritization, safety assessment and the safety determination processes, requiring timely response from EPA, and the bill establishes a waiver process to allow state regulations or laws to remain in effect when circumstances warrant it.
“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.”
According to Senator Vitter, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, the 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.
“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,” said Vitter. “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.”
“For far too long, American families have been exposed to chemicals that have never been tested for safety,” said Senator Gillibrand.“This bill will finally allow the EPA to test those chemicals that pose the greatest hazard to our children and pregnant women, and it will give the companies that manufacture the chemicals certainty that what they are selling is certified safe across all 50 States.”
“After almost 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have come together on an important and significant environmental reform measure,” said Senator Crapo, Ranking Member of the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health. “The Chemical Safety Improvement Act works to improve the safety of American consumers and ensure that risks from chemical substances are adequately understood and managed, while recognizing the enormous benefit the chemical industry brings to the economy.”
“I am proud to be part of this bipartisan group that came together to solve a critical problem, and I hope it serves as a model for future agreements,” said Senator Manchin. “This bill proves that bipartisan compromise can still work in Washington when people are committed to coming together to find commonsense solutions. Our agreement shows that protecting our health and environment does not have to impede our economic growth.”
The legislation also has the support of chemical industry representatives.
“The introduction of bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) represents a breakthrough for modernizing chemical regulation in the United States. Senators Lautenberg and Vitter deserve great credit for their commitment to move this measure forward,” said American Cleaning Institute President and CEO Ernie Rosenberg, President & CEO.
“By joining forces with Senator Lautenberg to introduce a bipartisan TSCA bill, Senator Vitter and other members of the US Senate have taken a vital step toward developing a stronger, more effective chemical regulatory program in the U.S. that provides meaningful reform and protects American consumers,” said CSPA President and CEO Chris Cathcart.