Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Senator Durbin Calls for Passage of Safe Chemicals Act

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has called upon his colleagues to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, "which would update and modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976." Durbin calls the 36 year old law “antiquated and ineffective” and desperately in need of reform. TSCA governs the regulation of chemicals in the United States with the goal of protecting human health and the environment.

On his web page Durbin notes that:

“The U.S. EPA, wittingly or unwittingly, has allowed the manufacturers of toxic chemicals to flood American households with substances that abundant scientific evidence finds harmful.  The Chicago Tribune series published this week reveals that flame retardant chemicals added to furniture and other household goods are not only useless, but also toxic for our families – especially young children.  The disturbing truth is that flame retardants are only one example of the many toxic substances that have made their way into American homes as a result of self-serving chemical companies and the weak, ineffective federal law that has regulated chemical safety standards since 1976.  We have to come together on a bipartisan basis to pass the Safe Chemicals Act and provide Illinois families with the basic level of safety they expect.”

The Chicago Tribune series he mentions refers to an investigative journalism series published this month that "uncovered flawed testing, products that don’t work, unscrupulous “experts,” shoddy science and stalled government reform." The reporting focused on

The Safe Chemicals Act bill was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey in April 2011 and remains in limbo with no action.  The last hearing was held in November 2011 and expectations are low that it will be taken up for a vote in this election year.  Even if the bill was passed in the Democratically-held Senate there is virtually no chance the Republican House would consider further regulation.  With the potential for the Republican's to gain control of the Senate in addition to holding the House in the fall, it seems unlikely that TSCA reform has much chance of seeing the light of day for many years, if ever.

Senator Durbin's full press release is available here.

The Chicago Tribune series can be found here.

A statement from the NGO Safer Chemicals Healthy Families can be read here.

A related statement from the American Chemistry Council can be read here.


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The Dake Page said...


Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem a little Orwellian for the chemical manufacturers statement to say "We are committed to responsibly engaging in public policy discussions.."? They refuse to work with Senator Lautenberg on the Safe Chemicals Act. They unilaterally walked away from related talks with health advocates. And they recently instructed their legislative champion to not agree to a timetable for completing bipartisan negotiations on chemical reform. If this is "advocacy in an open and transparent manner," then I'd like to sell you some toxic flame retardants that don't work.

The Dake Page said...

Thanks for your comment. It does seem that there is an opportunity for all parties to work together to find a workable modernization scheme. Realistically, during this election year it seems unlikely that the parties will come together to even try. Even if the Senate acts, the House is highly unlikely to even give the matter a second look.