Hazardous chemical law overhaul would increase power of federal regulators. Environmentalists and health groups have long complained the TSCA is toothless and doesn’t provide EPA regulators enough power to restrict the use of hazardous chemicals. One significant change called for in the Senate bill and the House measure is to change law so that chemical companies would have to prove that their chemicals are safe for use.
EPA now has to demonstrate the chemicals are unsafe. According to a summary of the bill Lautenberg’s office released, EPA has only required testing for about 200 chemicals of the 80,000 in the agency’s inventory. EPA has regulated only limited uses of five chemicals.
Industry lobbyists say they are willing to accept tougher federal enforcement in exchange for the growing number of state restrictions on chemicals. “We hope it can get done sooner rather than later,” said Keith Belton, a lobbyist with Dow Chemical Co.Dooley said in the statement, however, that the bill “undermines business certainty by allowing states to adopt their own regulations and create a lack of regulatory uniformity for chemicals and the products that use them.”
A Lautenberg aide said tougher federal chemical laws will negate the need for states to act. “Sen. Lautenberg is a strong defender of the states’ ability to protect their citizens from environmental hazards, and the Safe Chemicals Act does that,” the aide said. “But the bill would also provide certainty and consistency for industry by establishing a strong federal program that will ease the political pressure on state legislatures to pass their own laws.”
Environmental groups offered more support for the legislation but said they would work to strengthen it further by forcing the most hazardous chemicals off the market sooner.
“Changing the existing law would make a significant difference in people’s lives by reducing daily exposure to toxic chemicals,” said Daniel Rosenberg,an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.
The BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, commended Lautenberg for introducing the legislation.
“Requiring the chemical industry to prove the safety of chemicals, and ensuring that workers are notified if a safety determination is not issued by EPA, are important to ensuring the health and safety of the public and workers,” the group said.
Hazardous chemical law overhaul would increase power of federal regulators - The Hill's E2-Wire