Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Senators Lautenberg and Vitter Announce Bipartisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act

In a surprise move, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ), long a champion of safer chemicals, and Republican Senator David Vitter (LA) jointly announced introduction of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013. 

The bipartisan cosponsors include: co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Charles Schumer (D-NY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and John Hoeven (R-ND).

 More details on Senator Lautenberg's website.

Reaction from the American Chemistry Council.

From the American Cleaning Institute.

From the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA). CSPA also provides a table comparing the new Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 with TSCA.

From Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (a coalition of health and environmental advocates).

According to the announcement, "the Lautenberg-Vitter “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” would:
  • Require Safety Evaluations for All Chemicals: All active chemicals in commerce must be evaluated for safety and labeled as either “high” or “low” priority chemical based on potential risk to human health and the environment.  For high priority chemicals, EPA must conduct further safety evaluations. 
  • Protect Public Health from Unsafe Chemicals: If a chemical is found to be unsafe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the necessary authority to take action.  This can range from labeling requirements to the full phase-out or ban of a chemical.  
  •  Prioritize Chemicals for Review: The Environmental Protection Agency will have to transparently assess risk, determine safety, and apply any needed measures to manage risks.
  • Screen New Chemicals for Safety: New chemicals entering the market must be screened for safety and the EPA is given the authority to prohibit unsafe chemicals from entering the market. 
  • Secure Necessary Health and Safety Information: The legislation allows EPA to secure necessary health and safety information from chemical manufacturers, while directing EPA to rely first on existing information to avoid duplicative testing. 
  • Promote Innovation and Safer Chemistry: This legislation provides clear paths to getting new chemistry on the market and protects trade secrets and intellectual property from disclosure. 
  • Protect Children and Pregnant Women: The legislation requires EPA to evaluate the risks posed to particularly vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women, when evaluating the safety of a chemical—a provision not included in existing law.
  • Give States and Municipalities a Say:  States and local governments will have the opportunity to provide input on prioritization, safety assessment and the safety determination processes, requiring timely response from EPA, and the bill establishes a waiver process to allow state regulations or laws to remain in effect when circumstances warrant it.