Well, that came out of nowhere. This week, without much warning, the Senate passed legislation to update TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act. The House of Representatives passed a different bill in June—and until the vote, the language of the new legislation wasn’t made public. Talk about smoke and mirrors! Now the two bills will need to be reconciled in committee before anything becomes law. So how does the new legislation break down?
There are two serious considerations:
- It limits states’ rights to restrict toxic chemicals. While the EPA is studying a chemical—a process that often takes years—states will be blocked from taking action.
- It limits the EPA’s ability to monitor and act on toxic chemicals in imported products.
The good news is that when Congress reconciles the House and Senate versions of the bill, they will have the opportunity to better empower the EPA. The bad news is the chemical industry is pushing this new “reform.”
Here’s what some leading environmental health organizations say about what went down:
“Though improved, the legislation still has major problems. For example, it weakens EPA’s ability to intercept imported products, like most of the toys under your Christmas tree, when they contain a known toxic chemical. If reform is going to be credible, tricky, sneaky provisions like this will have to be removed.” Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
“Our children and grandchildren deserve a chemical management system that does not leave them with a toxic legacy, and this isn’t the reform we’ve worked on for over a decade.” Kathy Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York
“The Senate bill takes away states’ rights in a manner unprecedented in the history of federal environmental policymaking…Final TSCA reform must eliminate this regulatory void. Congress should not give the toxic chemical industry a ‘get out jail free’ card at the expense of the States.” Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of Environmental Health Strategy Center