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toxic chemicals

House Passes Chemical Safety Law Reform

toxic chemicalsThe US House of Representatives today approved new chemical safety rules that will overhaul the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). It passed 403 to 12.

The Senate is expected to approved the bill this week. President Barack Obama has said he will sign the chemical safety bill — called the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act — which has won support from the chemical industry as well as some environmentalists. This is the first update to the US’ major chemical safety legislation in 40 years.

Late last week the House and Senate reached a deal to move forward with the legislation, which reconciled the two elected bodies’ chemical safety reform bills that they had approved last year. The House-Senate bill gives the EPA greater authority and funding to regulate chemicals. It also gives the industry new protections against state regulations, which has earned it support from several trade organizations.

“This deal is a breakthrough that combines the strongest elements of the House and Senate bills, benefiting both manufacturers and consumers and eliminating regulatory uncertainty,” said National Association of Manufacturers senior vice president of policy and government relations Aric Newhouse in a statement. “Manufacturers have been calling for TSCA reform for years. As innovation and technology have propelled manufacturing into the 21st century, this outdated law not only has created bureaucratic burdens, but it also fails to reflect the state of current, modern manufacturing.”

American Chemistry Council CEO Cal Dooley called the bill “a true compromise that balances the interests of multiple stakeholders and has an almost-unprecedented level of bipartisan support… After years of inaction, we are confident 2016 will be the year U.S. chemical regulation steps into the 21st century.”

The Environmental Defense Fund called on the Senate to “immediately” pass the legislation.

“The Lautenberg Act fixes the biggest problems with our current law — by requiring safety reviews for chemicals in use today, mandating greater scrutiny of new chemicals before they can be sold, removing the barriers that prevented EPA from banning asbestos and other harmful chemicals, enhancing transparency, and much more,” said Dr. Richard Denison, EDF lead senior scientist. “While not perfect, this bill will be a dramatic improvement over current law.”

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