Thursday, January 20, 2011

30 States Introduce Chemical Restriction Laws as TSCA Chemical Reform Lies Dormant

With TSCA reform activities essentially dormant (and perhaps dead), a total of 30 separate US states have introduced chemical reform legislation.  According to the advocacy NGO Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, "on Wednesday, January 19, legislators and advocates in thirty states across the country and the District of Columbia will announce legislation aimed at protecting children and families from harmful chemicals."  They also claim that "despite well-funded opposition from the chemical industry, 18 state legislatures have already passed 71 chemical safety laws in the last eight years by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin – with more to come this year."

Last year both the House and Senate introduced "Safe Chemical" bills in an attempt to modernize the 34-year old Toxic Substances Control Act.  While on the House side there were several stakeholder meetings held to get input so that the bills could be fine-tuned, no substantive action occurred in committee in an effort to get votes on the bills.  Which means they must be reintroduced in this new Congress.  With the Republicans gaining control in the House and narrowing the gap in the Senate, along with the continuing lagging (though improving) economy, it is unclear whether any federal level TSCA reform can get passed this year or next.

With that in mind NGOs are shifting their efforts to encouraging state level action.  According to the NGO's press release:
"The American public is demanding new chemical safety laws, and state elected officials – both Republicans and Democrats – are responding," said Andy Igrejas, Campaign Director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. "At some point Congress will wake up and realize it is better for industry and public safety to make these changes at the federal level, as well." 

Planned legislation includes comprehensive state laws in nine states, phase outs of the plasticizer BPA in at least 17 states, calls for federal action in at least 11 states, bans of cadmium in childrens products, and exposure reductions in at least three states to a brominated flame retardant.  More information is available on the SCHF web site.

Note: US state graphic from SCHF.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not happening in the states. In the November elections, state legislatures moved even more to the conservative end of the spectrum than Congress did. And with huge budget deficits to address, the states have much higher priorities.