Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Statement of Barbara Boxer - Senate Hearing on TSCA Chemical Control Reform
As I noted yesterday, today there is a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing entitled "Oversight Hearing on the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act.” As I write this the hearing is still going on, but here are the opening remarks of Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer. I'll provide additional information on each of the witnesses in coming days. Witnesses are EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, John Stephenson at GAO, and Linda Birnbaum who heads the NIEHS.
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN BOXER
SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
HEARING ON THE TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL ACT
DECEMBER 2, 2009
(Remarks as prepared for delivery.)
When President Ford signed the Toxic Substances Control Act, TSCA in 1976, the law was supposed to help assure that toxic chemicals would be restricted or banned if they were hazardous.
However, more than three decades later, TSCA has not lived up to that promise. Court decisions and poor implementation have severely weakened the Act’s effectiveness over the years, and TSCA does not include sufficient protections for pregnant women, infants, children and others who are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposures.
In March 2009, the Government Accountability Office put EPA’s chemical management program on GAO’s list of “high risk” programs.
The GAO’s report found: “EPA has failed to develop sufficient chemical assessment information to limit public exposure to many chemicals that may pose substantial health risks.”
I am pleased to see that the Obama Administration is listening, and the EPA is stepping up to the plate on the need to reform our toxics laws.
In September, 2009, EPA issued principles for TSCA reform that include common-sense steps to help address the risks of dangerous toxic chemicals. I look forward to Administrator Jackson’s testimony today on those principles.
Consumers in this country deserve to know that the chemicals we are exposed to every day are safe. The companies that most effectively produce the safest chemicals stand to gain market share, enhanced consumer confidence, and reduce their potential liability costs.
My State of California has led the way in reducing threats from dangerous chemicals, such as phthalates and lead in children’s products. I am proud to have helped pass federal legislation that protects children from these chemicals in the Consumer Protection Safety and Improvement Act of 2008.
There is growing consensus that now is the time to act to transform America’s toxic chemical policies. Senator Lautenberg and I are working on a bill to overhaul TSCA, by requiring the chemical industry to prove their chemicals are safe for pregnant women, infants, children, and other vulnerable populations.
Public health, environmental, environmental justice and other groups have also called for reform that focuses on protecting all people from toxic chemicals, and encouraging the use of safer alternatives to dangerous substances.
The American Chemistry Council’s has issued principles that “support Congress’ effort to modernize our nation’s chemical management system.”
We have a responsibility to America’s families to ensure that the chemicals in the environment, and in the products they use every day have been scientifically tested and that they and their children are not put at risk.
This Committee has the opportunity to strengthen our nation’s toxics laws to ensure that evaluations on the safety of chemicals are made based on science and public health and that all people – especially the most vulnerable – are protected.
Today’s hearing is an important step forward in that process.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.