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Stay current on TSCA reform progress

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Environmental Working Group's campaign for Kid-Safe Chemicals shifted into high gear exactly a week before the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (poetic justice), when Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act (SCA) to reform our current ineffective toxic chemicals law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

EWG staff delivered a petition with more than 88,000 constituent signatures to key lawmakers (picture, right), including Senators Lautenberg and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Work, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. See the terrific pictures - including the 188-foot long (!) printed petition - here.

EWG is actively participating in the effort to move this reform process forward. Our scientists and policy experts are blogging about both the House and Senate versions on our Kid-Safe Chemicals Campaign blog. We're assessing the proposed changes and suggesting improvements where we see a need. Here are 5 of the analyses we've posted in the 2 weeks since these documents were released:

  • April 28th - Save the Best for Last, or Do the Worst First Ever keep putting off the worst things on your to-do list? Like dusting before tackling the bathrooms or puttering around in the garden before balancing your checkbook as your kids jump on the trampoline (before making their beds)?

    Under the House's discussion draft for chemical policy reform, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won't have that luxury. The draft puts the worst first. Details aside, that's the best approach we can imagine for determining how EPA should approach the task of assessing industrial chemicals that might threaten human health. Keep reading..

  • April 26th - New Chemicals: Getting the Right Data, and Getting the Data Right Under the new legislation pending in Congress to reform the nation's ineffectual chemicals regulation law, it would be easy to paralyze the Environmental Protection Agency under mountains of data -- if it's not done right.

    The discussion draft circulated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is currently being dissected and debated by industry, environmental and consumer groups, would require EPA to assess 300 existing "priority" chemicals every two years, evaluating them against a strict, health-based safety standard [section 6(b)].

    Unfortunately, there's a possibility that the standard applied to new chemicals and new chemical uses, at least as the draft is currently written, could be interpreted in a way that would make it nowhere near as strict. Keep reading.

  • April 23rd - R-Rated Chemicals: This is Reform? Is it possible that Congress would pass a bill allowing new chemicals on the market that might be even less safe than the ones we have now, to be used in products we buy and use everyday - even in children's products?

    Unfortunately, that's exactly what the newly released House discussion draft of a chemicals regulation reform bill would do. It would be like strictly monitoring your older son's TV watching while letting his kid sister take in an R-rated feature at the theatre. Keep reading.

  • April 21st - News to Use, For All of Us After nearly 35 years with basically no information on just about any chemical, is it possible to have too much "minimal" information? Sounds hard to imagine, but some apparently think so.

    Here's the issue. Under the newly-released House draft of a chemical regulation reform bill, EPA would identify the 300 chemicals of greatest concern, the so-called priority list. Industry would then have 18 months to submit a "minimum data set" (basically a rundown of what's already known about each chemical) for every compound on that list. This doesn't seem to be a particularly contentious proposal.

    The House discussion draft then requires EPA to complete its regulatory review of those 300 compounds within two years. This is where it gets a little tricky. Keep reading.

  • April 20th - What We - and EPA - Need to Know When it comes to protecting us from toxic substances, current law has produced an information wasteland -- where meaningful science on chemical risks is virtually nowhere to be found.

    Rewriting the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to fix this problem is a cornerstone of any meaningful reform. So it's not surprising that the House Energy and Commerce Committee made this issue the focus of the first of a series of meetings it's hosting to review the "discussion draft" of a reform bill it released last week (April 14). It's called the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010.

    Lack of data must never again be an obstacle to protecting public health. To achieve that goal, EPA must have absolute and unencumbered authority to ask for any study that it needs to better understand the risks of any chemical. Keep reading.

  • April 15th - Lautenberg Plan: Safety First In the House, meanwhile, a key committee rolled out its "discussion draft" of a parallel proposal. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and Commerce, and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), chairman of the Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, will begin hammering out a final version that could go to a floor vote later this year.

    Sen. Lautenberg's Safe Chemicals Act will bring order to a chemical industry whose products have largely escaped regulation for the past three decades. With virtually no rules governing the safety of chemicals, American babies are born pre-polluted, their bodies laced with as many as 300 industrial compounds, pollutants, plastics, pesticides and other substances that threaten public health.

    Lautenberg puts this problem in the crosshairs by making protection of children and other vulnerable populations the cornerstone of American environmental health policy. Keep reading.

Stay tuned for more news, analysis and action opportunities as this process moves ahead - on EWG's Kid-Safe Chemicals Campaign Blog.

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