What People Are Saying About Chemical Reform
The Vitter/Udall chemical safety act…the chemical companies applaud it, some Senators call it the best chance we’re going to get at fixing the broken 40-year old chemical regulatory system, and other Senators, along with the health and environmental groups like CEH, are calling it a giant leap backwards and in need of serious revisions.
As you read through the quotes, you’ll hear from regular Americans, politicians, academics, scientists, medical professionals, and, of course, environmental health groups like CEH. If you’d like a little more context on the bill, feel free to drop by our summary page or read our opposition letter that was submitted to the Senate on March 18th and read into the official record.
Who’s Saying What
“Under the U.S. Constitution, the job of regulating interstate commerce falls to Congress, not the states. We support this legislation not only because it better protects our families and communities, but because it ensures American industry and innovation can continue to thrive and lead without the impediment of 50 different rulebooks.” Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
“Are we here to accomplish something that protects the public health and environment while ensuring that American industry has the ability to continue to lead and innovate, or are we willing to let the status quo remain?” Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
“Why should we be afraid of states’ rights to take actions, especially when the EPA’s budget is continually hacked away.” Senator Cory Booker, (D-NJ)
“In its current form (this bill) would not make a big dent in the problem of toxic chemical exposure and would even do some harm by restraining state governments. While Senators Vitter and Udall have made some positive changes, the bill is not up to the important task of protecting public health. We plan to work with Senators from both parties to make the needed improvements.” Andy Igrejas, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
“We are terribly disappointed that this long-awaited proposal still retains provisions that put children and families at risk. The Senate bill would leave EPA unable to adequately address chemical health threats, and at the same time, undermine state actions that, in the absence of federal rules, are the only protections our children have. We expect Senators who care about children’s health to make significant changes to this dangerous approach.” Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH.
“The process for listing chemicals as high or low priority in (the Udall/Vitter bill) is flawed. It favors the listing of chemicals as low priority, and then when chemicals are listed as low priority, it sets a series of barriers that make the review of the chemicals a challenge. As written, the bill allows a chemical to be deemed low priority based only on available data, which unfortunately are inadequate for that purpose for most chemicals. And once a chemical is designated a low priority, the US EPA would be unable to require additional safety data, and States would be prohibited from taking action on that chemical.” Mark S. Rossi, PhD, Chair of BizNGO, the Business-NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Working Group for Safer Chemicals and Sustainable Materials, a project of Clean Production Action
“None of the provisions in the bill are perfect from our perspective. Clearly, most of them represent compromises.” Dr. Richard Denison, Lead Senior Scientist at Environmental Defense Fund.
“The fact that the Vitter-Udall bill will not even restrict, much less ban [asbestos], the deadly substance that claims 30 lives a day is nothing short of a national travesty. The bill, embraced by the chemical industry, will only expose future generations to asbestos and many other highly toxic chemicals.” Linda Reinstein, founder, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
“[Under the Udall/Vitter bill] it takes EPA seven or more years to issue regulations on a chemical. Blocking state action during this long delay would put people in harm’s way and benefits no one except chemical companies. This bill is supported by the American Chemical Council, the trade association and lobbying arm of big chemical companies.” Amanda Frank, Center for Effective Government
“Congress has the responsibility to set strong federal standards for chemicals in consumer products, ensuring consumers around the country are safe.” John Musella, chairman of the California Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.
“As our experience over the past few decades demonstrates, industry is fully capable of addressing the concerns of both the federal government and state governments with respect to any chemical it chooses to bring to market. It has done so without undue burden or cost, and the benefits accruing to the public have been substantial. Any suggestion that retaining the existing preemption scheme under TSCA will lead to an unmanageable conflict among state requirements is misplaced. In the nearly 40 years since TSCA was enacted, states have been regulating chemical safety, and the U.S. chemical industry has retained its leadership in chemicals research and manufacturing.”
Maura Bealey / Massachusetts Attorney General
“In an environment where EPA lacks staff, lacks budgetary resources, the worry is that they would not be able to complete these assessments,” David Konisky, professor of public policy, Georgetown University
“There are a lot of good reasons to reform TSCA, but Vitter-Udall bill does not take TSCA reform in the right direction….[Their proposal] has three fatal flaws that need to be corrected. First, the bill dramatically reduces state authority and interferes with the democratic process of states as laboratories of reform. Second, the bill creates what one coalition of public health, labor, environmental and business calls a “low priority loophole” that effectively ends regulations of a majority of chemicals. Third, the inability to regulate chemicals in products made overseas not only allows the flood of dangerous products to continue to flow in from abroad, but the provision may further encourage companies currently manufacturing in the United States to move jobs overseas.” Elizabeth Glass Geltman, author of 17 books on environmental and natural resources policy and an associate professor and program director for Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health and the Urban School of Public Health at Hunter College.
“Since TSCA passed in 1976, 149 million babies were born in this country, half of them after 1994. An estimated 3% of these babies had birth defects and more than 10% were born preterm. Since 1976, 86 million people in the US died, more than half of these after 1994; around 25% of these death were due to cancer. While we don’t know how many of those outcomes are due to chemical exposure, we do know this: We’re all exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals in everyday products and some of them have been linked to cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems.” Lynn Goldman, Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She served as an assistant administrator at EPA and worked in environmental health for the California Department of Public Health.
“This new law makes no sense. And instead of protecting people, it only hurts us and protects big industry.” Deanne Miller, Baily, Colorado
“I’m tired of “fox in the henhouse” legislation.” M. Edwards, Titusville, FL
“I’m tired of being a victim of industry. Chemical manufacturers care only about profits, not about my health, the health of the environment or wildlife, or the health of our children. Congress should care about our health and sustainability, but most members don’t care at all. They support industry at our expense. Most of Congress opposes any efforts to control industry’s runway train of poison and pollution—not as long as a few measly jobs are created. There is very little regard for American Citizens in this country—which is why I am signing this petition. I question the ability of Congress to do anything productive. You’re taking us on a train to nowhere.” Candice Hallmark, Belmont, CA
“Why are you tying EPA hands? Why is the corporate bottom line more important than people?” Sandra Lawrence, Kerrville, TX
“Please work out your differences for every family. Far too many chemicals are on the market without any sort of testing.” Bonnie Lautenberg, NJ
“I am a young woman of child bearing years. I am in the high risk category for breast cancer because my mother and grandmother both had it. We are all at risk and we all know that products manufactured for the EU are much safer and also readily available, giving US manufacturers no excuse.” Amanda Sebert, Boston, MA
“We’ve waited almost forty years for a strong chemical law in this country. Let’s not pass one that caters to the chemical industry.” Amanda Frank, Bismark, ND
“Under current chemical rules, EPA has been unable to regulate even deadly chemicals like asbestos. The Senate’s fake reform bill fails to create a swift process to address this failure on asbestos and hundreds of other highly toxic chemicals. Instead, it gives EPA 7 years or more to review just ten of the most toxic chemicals, and gives no deadlines at all for implementation of regulations. Please stop any fake chemical bill . Until corporations can be responsible for the resources and toxic output to communities we must regulate!” Ruth Remple, Longmont, CO
“I am a cancer survivor with an autistic son. In 1945, my father was a chemist producing soap and agent orange for the WWII effort. In 10 years, all of his acquaintances were dead of cancer. Both I and my son are VERY sensitive to chemicals. As a result, I can no longer travel for more than a couple of days, because I must bring all my food with me. Even things which “look” innocent enough can be loaded with GMO’s. Now DOW has GMO’d dioxin into food! As a “canary in the coal mine” on what can happen to an entire family exposed to chemicals, this is an attempt to run such an experiment on the entire human race!” Susan Mullens, Bloomfield, NJ
“What could be worse than the 40-year old bill the EPA operates under now? The Vitter/Udall bill that slows the EPA process down even further, but strips states from protecting their own citizens. I’m really sick and tired of this useless Congress. You all need to be fired.” Pamela Zuppo, San Francisco, CA
“Despite how “safe” we hear that chemicals are (herbicides by lawn companies, for instance), they are not. My wife suffers from Toxic Injury and reacts to (among MANY chemicals) a treated lawn WEEKS after application (much longer than the 30 minutes that the company claims to be safe). And my children are also reactive to different chemicals, all of which are purported to be “safe.” It is time to honestly address the chemical issues in our society, and this bill does NOT.” Stephen Upton, Hot Springs, SD
“…it does not make sense for you to pass legislation that fails to set deadlines for the EPA to establish regulations for the handling, transportation and use of chemicals known to have dangerous health effects on humans and the environment. Also, it never makes sense to pass a law that prevents any state from passing its own safety law just because a federal agency has plans to review and determine regulatory limits for something – especially when there are no deadlines for setting and enforcing regulation. This wording of the law being proposed just reeks of interference and undue influence by the chemical industry.” June Smith, Alamonte Springs, FL
The Chemical Industry
“This bill is critical not only to ensuring increased public confidence in chemical safety in the U.S., but also to protecting U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.” Aaron Woods, a spokesman for DuPont.
” this legislation will offer the kind of predictability, consistency and certainty that manufacturers and the national marketplace need…” Cal Dooley, President of the American Chemistry Council.