Chemicals play a pivotal role in our economy and our daily lives. Every day in this country, manufacturers use chemicals to make everything from carpets to cosmetics, water bottles to dishwashing soap – and every day, Americans use those chemicals at home, at work and in school.
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 – “TSCA” – was a law intended to give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to monitor and test chemicals, and regulate the ones that pose a risk to human health or the environment. But over the past 39 years, TSCA has never worked as intended, leaving the private sector and manufacturing industry with a broken regulatory process that undermined innovation. Businesses in Delaware – including DuPont, Chemours, Croda and Ashland – have long called on Congress to modernize our country’s chemical safety laws. At the same time, over the years we’ve also learned a lot more about toxic chemicals and the harm they can cause to our environment and public health.
That’s why, more than three years ago, Senators Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, and David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, wrote the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – a bill to reform TSCA to better protect the public and create a more manageable regulatory framework for American businesses and innovators.
Chemical manufacturers and consumers alike deserve legal clarity, a timely review process and the ability to trust that the products they use each day are safe. For the first time, this bill will 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.
After the bill was introduced, I worked closely with Senators Udall and Vitter for more than a year, leading countless meetings and discussions to secure enhanced protections for public health and the environment. I worked with my colleagues to secure provisions that would protect children, pregnant women and workers from toxic risks. I also worked to ensure that the EPA would have access to information to assess safety risks.
The final product of six years of communication, collaboration and compromise – what I call the “3 C’s” – is a bill that comes leaps and bounds ahead of current law in its protections for public health and the environment. This week in the Senate, after the House voted, my colleagues and I approved this important bill and sent it to the President’s desk for his signature. Following the Senate vote, I took to the floor to share my thoughts on this critically important update to our country's toxic chemical safety law. I'd encourage you to view my full remarks here.I’ve long said that one of the most important jobs of government is to create a nurturing environment for job creation and preservation. This legislation does exactly that by improving a failed law that doesn’t work for consumers and doesn’t work for businesses. Today, we are closer than we’ve ever been to reforming our country’s toxic chemical safety law because both sides of the aisle have worked together to compromise on policy without compromising their principles – and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done together across party lines to reach this historic agreement.