Safe Chemicals Act Passed in Committee

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works takes historic vote to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act.

| July 25, 2012


The 36-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act has the possibility of reform with the passage of the Safe Chemical Act. 


The following article is posted with permission from Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association.

In an historic vote today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) passed S. 847, the Safe Chemicals Act, sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). This is the first time in more than three decades that Congress has voted on any proposal to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a 36-year-old law that is widely considered to be outdated and ineffective at protecting health and ensuring chemicals used in everyday products are adequately tested for safety.

The vote comes after months of formal and informal meetings between Lautenberg, chemical and consumer product companies, public health advocates, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. As a result, the original bill was changed substantially to address industry concerns about the speed, confidentiality and burden of proof that will become part of the improved system, while still updating TSCA to ensure that dangerous chemicals are quickly identified and phased out of the market.

In an important show of bipartisan support, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe sent a letter to EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) on Friday to “express my support for reform of our nation’s chemical safety law.” Snowe stated in her letter that “a law enacted in 1976 cannot effectively regulate our modern chemical industry” and “reforms must be made to ensure the safety and confidence of the millions of Americans who use these products.  I am ready to join you in finally modernizing TSCA.”

Maine parents and advocates applauded Wednesday’s vote and bipartisan leadership by Senator Olympia Snowe that helped set the stage for the historical action.

"Today marks new exciting momentum for fixing our broken chemical law despite relentless attempts by the chemical industry to derail the process," said Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, which coordinates the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. "We're thankful that Senators Snowe and Collins have demonstrated bipartisan support by calling for reform of the current law and we look forward to their help in bringing this bill to the Senate floor for a vote this fall."

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