Senate negotiators and House Republicans have struck a deal to overhaul chemical safety laws, and a vote could happen this week -- But there's a toxic pill. Click here to call your Member of Congress and both Senators and tell them to oppose any TSCA reform that preempts states' right to protect us from toxic chemicals.
Senate negotiators and House Republicans have struck a deal to overhaul our decades-old chemical safety law, known as the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).1 At stake are the rules for what chemicals are allowed to be used in everything from food containers to children's toys and a heck of a lot more.2
Votes are expected to start tomorrow, and could be wrapped up this week.3 But there's a toxic trick hiding in this so-called-bipartisan fix: The bill being voted on right now would prevent state and local governments from enacting tougher standards than the EPA. And that's a big problem since the EPA has only reviewed a few hundred chemicals for safety, while nearly 85,000 chemicals are being used right now that we know nothing about.4
Some Democrats like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and officials from five states — Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Washington — have all come out in opposition.5 But we're running out of time to fix or stop this toxic reform before it's released into our ecosystem!
Click here to call your member of Congress, and then your Senators to tell them to oppose any TSCA reform that would prevent states from enacting tougher standards than the EPA.
Nobody denies that TSCA is badly in need of reform. It's the main federal law governing the "safe" use of thousands of chemicals we are exposed to every day. But the 1976 law grandfathered thousands of chemicals that were already on the market, including asbestos. The current law also made it really hard for the EPA to consider, regulate or ban new chemicals as they were released onto the market.2
That's why, since the 1970s, most of the work to protect consumers and the environment from toxic substances has been happening at the state and local level. That progress is what's at stake in this week's Congressional votes.
But you don't have to take my word for it: Paul Tonko, the ranking Democratic member on the House Environment and the Economy Subcommittee who is opposing the bill, said, "We have negotiated in good faith to try to reach an agreement to fix EPA’s chemical program. And while there are positive aspects of this bill, ultimately, it is inadequate."5 Likewise, Senator Bernie Sanders, whose home state of Vermont is already a leader on regulating Toxic Chemicals, says the bill makes it "more difficult for states to set new, stricter standards ... federal chemical regulations should be a floor, not a ceiling. States should not be stopped from going above and beyond minimum federal safety standards.”5
Tonko, Sanders and other leaders in Congress are fighting for our health and the health of the planet by standing up for TSCA reform that protects states' rights to go beyond the EPA rules. But they need our help to stop the House Republican Caucus and Senate compromise-crats. Click here to make a phone call and tell your member of Congress, and then both your Senators, to oppose any TSCA reform that prevents states from taking stronger action than the EPA.
Drew and the tsk-tsk-TSCA crew at Environmental Action.
1 - Eric Wolff, Darius Dixon, Alex Guillén, and Anca Gurzu, Congress all about energy business, Politico Morning Energy, May 23, 2016
2 - Mary Ellen Kustin, Opposition To Industry Chemical Bill Continues To Build, Environmental Working Group Blog, April 8, 2015
3 - Catherine Traywick and Laura Curtis, With TSCA vote, GOP to give EPA new authority, Bloomberg first World Energy, May 23, 2016
4 - Melanie Benesh, Is TSCA Rewrite Better Than Current Law?, Environmental Working Group Blog, May 19, 2016
5 - Kelsey Tamborrino, Darren Goode, Darius Dixon, Andrew Restuccia, Alex Guillén and Kevin Robillard. TSCA moves forward, Politico Afternoon energy, May 20, 2016