Wednesday was a big day. For the first time this year, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee discussed what it will take to pass strong laws on toxic chemicals. So, why was this Congressional hearing such a big deal?
In May, Senator Vitter and the late Senator Lautenberg introduced a bi-partisan bill to reform our federal law on toxic chemicals. The bill as drafted, has serious flaws, but provided a rare political breakthrough against deep partisan gridlock. Today’s hearing was the first discussion on a path forward since the compromise bill was introduced.
Today’s “marathon hearing,” lasting over six hours featuring nineteen witnesses.
Here’s what we learned:
- Our current laws on toxic chemicals are severely broken (ok we already knew THAT!).
- Several of our coalition partners testified including: Breast Cancer Fund; WeACT for Environmental Justice; Natural Resources Defense Council; Mossville Environmental Action Now; Center for Environmental Health; the Asbestos Disease Awareness Association and Dignity Health.
- There was a robust twitter chat (our #SaferChemicals hashtag was “trending!”) and you can check out the highlights here. Actors Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley and Paul Adelstein even joined the conversation.
- There was incredible bipartisan support on the committee to reform our current laws and find a common path forward on the new compromise bill.
Expert testimony identified many ways the Chemical Safety Improvement Act needs to be fixed. We’re asking the Senate to:
1.) Ensure adequate protections for vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children and hot spot communities
2.) Preserve the authority of state governments to act on toxic chemicals
3.) Require adequate data on chemical safety, so the EPA can properly prioritize chemicals
4.) Include deadlines and timetables to ensure the EPA is meeting appropriate benchmarks
5.) Remove red tape on the EPA before restricting the use of dangerous chemicals (learning from the lessons of existing TSCA and asbestos)
Today’s hearing went well, in part, because of you. Senators know that this is an issue that people from across the country care about. Your voice has made a huge difference in this important debate.
The groundwork has been laid for a busy fall and we’ll need you by our side to ensure the Senate passes strong laws on toxic chemicals.