The House passed legislation on June 23 to overhaul toxic chemical safety laws for the first time in decades.
Passed on a 398-1 vote, the bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review chemicals in products and issue risk management regulations in an expedited manner.
It would allow states to issue their own regulations even though the EPA’s risk management rules would apply nationwide. Manufacturers could further petition the EPA to rule on the safety of chemicals present in their products.
Lawmakers said that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) law, originally enacted in 1976, was overdue for a rewrite.
“The time is now to update this outdated law,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the bill’s author.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) warned that toxic chemicals needed to be reined in to protect public health.
“Toxic chemicals can be found in the products we use every day and are steadily building up in our bodies and the environment. Consumers are worried about chemicals like BPA and triclosan but they don’t know how to avoid them,” Pallone said. “Something needs to change.”
The legislation has broad support from a range of stakeholders, including the chemical distribution industry.
“The House has an opportunity to act in a bipartisan manner by passing legislation that will protect consumers while improving efficiency for the chemical industry and the economy overall,” National Association of Chemical Distributors President Eric R. Byer said in a statement.
Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have authored similar legislation, which was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in April.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that he will move the legislation before the August recess.