Legislative update:

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Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

On March 10, 2015, Senators Udall (D-NM) and Vitter (R-LA) introduced S.697, legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. On December 17, 2015, the Senate passed its TSCA reform legislation by unanimous consent.

While improved over its predecessor in the 113th Congress, and over the bill that was first introduced in March, the bill contains serious flaws that undermine the protection of public health.

House legislation – the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 – was introduced as H.R. 2576 in May 2015. A revised bill was passed by the House in June 2015.

The House passed an amended version of H.R. 2576 on May 24, 2016. The Senate is slated to vote on the bill in June, after returning from recess.

More information:

TSCA Modernization Act of 2015

In April 2015, Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), the Chair of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled draft legislation entitled the “TSCA Modernization Act of 2015” to update the almost 40 year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). (Read our Director’s testimony on the 2015 House discussion draft.)

The House passed a revised version of the bill, H.R. 2576, on June 23, 2015. The bill takes a narrow approach to reform, and contains improvements over previous drafts and over the Senate bill, but it still needs key fixes. These points were highlighted in a blog by our Director. (Read the blog here.)

The House passed a further amended version of H.R. 2576 on May 24, 2016. The Senate is slated to vote on the bill in June, after returning from recess.

Toxic Substances Control Act

The connection between common chemicals and health problems such as infertility, cancer, learning disabilities, and autism has brought the public’s attention to the failure of U.S. chemical policy.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the one major environmental law from the 1970’s that never got off the ground.

It passed in 1976 and has never been reauthorized. The classic story of TSCA’s failure is that the EPA spent the 1980s preparing a rule on asbestos but it was thrown out of court in 1991. That was that. The message was: if you can’t use this law to deal with something as notorious as asbestos, what COULD you do with it? They stopped trying. EPA has restricted only 5 chemicals under TSCA.

Nearly forty years later, we now have 84,000 chemicals in commerce with no health and safety information for the vast majority of them, and marked increases in chronic health problems linked to chemical exposures.

States haven’t waited for Congress to act. Thirty-four states have responded by passing chemical restrictions of some kind. Major retailers like Target and Walmart and major manufacturers are starting to restrict hazardous chemicals. Europe reformed its own policy years ago, setting the global standard (REACH) to which the world now looks.

For Congress to make progress on this critical issue, protecting public health has to be front and center.

Read and download our factsheet on TSCA.

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Policy & Regulation