Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lautenberg Joins "Stroller Brigade" to Push for TSCA Chemical Reform

Senator Frank Lautenberg joined a "stroller brigade" of mothers from 30 states yesterday in support of TSCA reform.  This follows on the heels of a call from Senator Dick Durbin to modernize the 36 year old law.  According to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, the "National Stroller Brigade builds on 30 local events in support of the Safe Chemicals Act, in locations as diverse as Little Rock and Omaha.  Hundreds of moms – many with children in tow – flew or bused into Washington to deliver 130,000 petition signatures to their Senators."

Lautenberg introduced the Safe Chemicals Act in 2011 and some hearings were held in Congress, but no recent action has taken place and very few people think a bill can be passed during this election year.  Even if the bill did pass in the Senate it is unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-controlled House.  The stroller brigade was designed to try to encourage lawmakers to address the issue.

“If there is one overwhelming message from years of science, it’s that exposure to toxic chemicals early in our lives is responsible for some of the cancer, infertility, and other health problems that affect millions of Americans,” said Andy Igrejas of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “However, Congress has been paralyzed. We’re here to break the gridlock and demand common sense limits on toxic chemicals.”
Lautenberg, Durbin and 14 other co-sponsors of the bill (all Democrats) are trying to get passage during this term.  All parties, including the chemical industry, agree that modernization of TSCA is necessary.  However, industry opposes the current bill. Democrats are frustrated that despite their altering the bill several times to make it more industry-friendly, industry has not sat down with Congressional staff to agree on what features would work for them.  This frustration was palpable during a Senate hearing last year. Industry, on the other hand, feels that the current bill is unworkable and that any TSCA reform bill must essentially start from scratch.

Given that all sides (Government, EPA, NGOs, and Industry) all agree that modernization is necessary, and that substantial reworking of the principles and proposed requirements has occurred as the various bills evolved, it seems that the lack of a successful TSCA reform is due to politics rather than science.

Lautenberg expressed his frustration in his press release:

“It’s shocking that toxic chemicals end up in everyday consumer products, and in our bodies, without anyone proving that they are safe. The stroller brigade is carrying an important message to Congress that we're not going to stand by and let our kids continue to be exposed to chemicals that make them sick.  Concerned moms are the best weapons we have in this fight.  With their help, I will keep advancing the Safe Chemicals Act to reform our broken toxic chemical laws and provide a healthier future for our families.”

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