Sen. Carper Statement on EPW Passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) a senior member of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement after the committee voted 15-5 to pass the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

“I am proud of the EPW Committee’s work today to advance the first meaningful environmental legislation out of committee on a bipartisan basis in a long time. Bipartisanship is rare in the Senate these days, and even more so on environmental issues. I believe the progress made today is the result of Congress listening to what Americans said to us in November: get things done, work together and strengthen our economic recovery. The bipartisan bill we passed today does all three.

“For nearly 40 years, a broken regulatory system for toxic substances has failed to adequately protect Americans from risks to their health. Tens of thousands of chemicals have come to market since 1976 when the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, became law, yet its shortcomings have kept the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taking action on an overwhelming majority of them. The miniscule number of chemicals that have been regulated is shocking – five – and only 200 of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in this country have even been evaluated. By any measure, the law is a failure.

“I believe that continued inaction on this issue cannot be an option. While there have been several attempts to reform TSCA in the past few Congresses, each has failed to become law. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act represents a bipartisan compromise and a great step toward finally taking action.

“A year ago, I led a letter with 10 of my colleagues to outline changes‎ to the bill we thought must be addressed in order to move forward. Senator Udall worked tirelessly with Senator Vitter to incorporate our suggestions and produced a piece of legislation that was leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor in its protections for public health and the environment. As a signal of my appreciation of their hard work, I cosponsored the compromise bill, but made clear that I believed there were still areas in need of improvement. I am thrilled that under their strong leadership and determination, the legislation we marked up today met these remaining concerns and has garnered the support of even more of our colleagues. Communication, compromise and collaboration have made all the difference in this effort and enabled Republicans and Democrats to find a way forward on a very challenging, but necessary, reform of our nation’s chemical safety law. 

“I hope that the bipartisanship we found in this committee over the past year and during our markup today will continue as we seek to complete this long overdue reform effort.”