Carper, Coons urge passage of historic bipartisan chemical safety reform legislation

WASHINGTON – In a press conference today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues, Bonnie Lautenberg, widow of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and other supporters of chemical safety reform to urge the Senate to act to pass a historic bill to reform the broken Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA).

Written by Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and David Vitter (R-La.), the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act would overhaul the 39-year-old law to better protect the public while still protecting American business and innovation. The proposal is based on a bill authored by chemical safety champion former-Senator Lautenberg before he passed away, which he wrote with Senator Vitter. It now has broad bipartisan support, with 60 Senate cosponsors representing 38 states.

“Our strategy to keep American families safe from toxic substances has failed for nearly four decades, and it’s time to fix the problem,” said Senator Tom Carper. “This legislation will, for the first time, require that every chemical used in consumer products is assessed for safety. At the same time, it will offer businesses a predictable and manageable review process for chemicals that do not pose a safety hazard. Bipartisanship is hard to find in the Senate these days, especially on issues that affect the environment. But in this case, Democrats and Republicans are coming together to improve a failed law that doesn’t work for consumers and doesn’t work for businesses. Today, we are closer than we’ve ever gotten to reforming our toxics law because both sides have compromised on policy without compromising their principles. We must now show the American people we can do what’s right for this country and move this bill across the finish line.” 

“By failing to update our decades-old chemical safety laws, we’ve endangered public health and the environment for too long,” said Senator Chris Coons. “Before he passed away, Senator Lautenberg worked tirelessly to reach this groundbreaking reform bill, and Senator Udall has taken up the mantle since then to improve and strengthen the bill to adequately protect human health and the environment. I am proud that the bill also includes a section that reflects my Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act, which creates a federal interagency effort to support R&D, commercialization, education and training, and industry-academic partnerships in sustainable chemistry. We now have a bill that will finally ensure our country has a regulatory framework that works for the 21st century by protecting human health and the environment, while also providing certainty and predictability for consumers and industry. I urge the Senate to take up this bill immediately while we have wide bipartisan support, or risk losing all the hard work that’s been done to reach this historic compromise.” 

Senator Carper worked closely with the Senators Udall and Vitter for more than a year, leading a group of Democratic colleagues in discussions to secure enhanced protections for public health and the environment, including provisions that would protect children, pregnant women, and workers from toxic risks, ensure EPA has access to information to assess safety risks, and allow states to enforce federal toxic safety. He joined the legislation as a cosponsor of the compromise proposal, introduced in March. Since its introduction, Senator Carper has worked hard to further improve the bill and is proud of the strong bipartisan process that has moved this legislation forward with broad support from both sides of the aisle. 

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act includes provisions from Senator Coons’ sustainable chemistry bill that he introduced earlier this year with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). These provisions would encourage the design, development, and commercialization of high-preforming chemicals, products, and processes that reduce or eliminate risk to human health and benefit the environment.