House Overwhelmingly Approves Update to Chemical Safety Rules
TSCA Modernization Act provides a starting point for real reform
Oakland, CA – The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is cautiously optimistic by movement in the U.S. House of Representatives, which yesterday passed a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but also notes areas where improvements for public health protections are still needed. The House bill, sponsored by Reps. John Shimkus, R-Ill., Fred Upton, R-Mich., Frank Pallone D-N.J., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., H.R. 2576, the “TSCA Modernization Act,” passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 398 to 1.
For almost twenty years, CEH has won landmark protections from harmful chemicals for millions of Americans through its private enforcement of California’s strong consumer protection law, known as Proposition 65. CEH notes that maintaining the effectiveness of Prop 65 and other state laws is a critical element to ensuring that children and families are protected from harmful chemicals. CEH commends Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NY) for leading the charge to preserve both existing state laws and private rights of action. In their colloquy, established to confirm the intent of Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, Representatives Eshoo and Shimkus stated clearly that the bill would not impact the enforcement of Proposition 65 or the ability of the state to authorize citizen enforcement of Proposition 65 unless there is an actual conflict. CEH will continue to work with Congressional leaders to strengthen the bill on this and other provisions as the legislative process moves forward.
“We commend Congresswoman Eshoo and Leader Pelosi on their work to preserve citizen enforcement under Proposition 65 and their commitment to public health. Although the House bill is not perfect, we are grateful Congress recognizes the importance of citizen enforcement under Prop 65,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We remain hopeful that the bill will form the foundation for changes that can protect American children and families from harmful chemicals in our air, water, food and everyday products.”
As TSCA negotiations continue, CEH calls for strengthening the House bill in several key ways. First, Congress must address a provision that allows industry to petition and pay for an unlimited number of assessments that would prevent the EPA from having the resources to prioritize and conduct assessments on chemicals that are of the highest concern to public health. Additional improvements include improving the public’s right to know and providing the EPA with adequate funding from industry fees.
A Senate version of TSCA reform, S. 697, is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. CEH remains opposed to the Senate version, as it would undermine rules that are essential to protecting Americans from disease-causing chemicals.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is the leading national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. CEH protects children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. For more information, see www.ceh.org/tsca.