Monday, July 23, 2012

Poll Shows Most Americans Want to Update Chemical Control Law

A new poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a leading Republican polling firm, shows that "voters are concerned about the effects of exposure to toxic chemicals in day to day life." The poll also shows that "most voters support 'stricter regulation of chemicals produced and used in everyday products.'"

POS conducted the national telephone survey of 800 registered voters on June 25-27, 2012. The overall margin of error is +3.46%. Interviews were distributed proportionally throughout the country. More information on the poll results and methods can be found here.

Poll results show that 77% of respondents support specific legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law passed in 1976 for which all stakeholders (industry, NGOs, EPA, health and environmental advocates) agree needs to be modernized. Support for reform of the law was "wide-spread and broad-based," i.e., large majorities of all demographics surveyed agreed that the law was in need of updating.

POS concluded that "U.S. voters overwhelmingly support reform to regulations overseeing chemicals produced and used in everyday products, particularly when provided with specifics about what the reform might entail." Even when robust arguments on both sides of the issue were presented, "voters continue to side with supporters of reform."

TSCA reform has been the subject of many attempts by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and others to introduce legislation. Lautenberg's most recent effort, the Safe Chemicals Act, has languished in Committee without action. This might change this week, however, as Lautenberg says he expects to bring the bill to markup this week, which may lead to a Committee vote as early as Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the subcommittee and full committee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, July 24th to discuss Congressional oversight of EPA authorities related to TSCA. Of specific interest is a recent investigative series by the Chicago Tribune that suggested the brominated flame retardant industry had overstated benefits and understated risks of a class of flame retardants called PBDEs. This builds on a hearing held recently by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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