Smart discussion about toxics policy reform

Doing the Right Thing

It’s not news that getting anything substantive through Congress these days is like pushing very big rocks uphill, even when there is remarkable consensus on the topic.

That’s why a broad array of organizations that care about people’s health came together this week to thank Administrator Lisa Jackson of the Environmental Protection Agency for her principled and vigorous efforts to advance comprehensive reform of our broken system for regulating hazardous chemicals. In a letter dated March 10, they wrote:

We welcome the core principles you announced on September 29, 2009 in San Francisco that outlined the Obama Administration’s plan to overhaul the nation’s chemical regulatory program and give EPA greater authority to protect the public. Our organizations and supporters applaud the Administration’s intention to transform our country’s chemical regulatory system and decision to make TSCA reform a top priority.

The letter’s signers, who represent millions of members and supporters, have been urging members of Congress in hearings and through personal contact to introduce and take prompt action on a bill to correct the well-known failings of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.

Environmental Working Group, which led the effort to recognize Administrator Jackson’s initiative and commitment to reform, has long advocated for a thorough rewriting of the outdated law. In particular, EWG is urging adoption of a risk-based approach that gives priority to controlling all substances known to contaminate human bodies, particularly those chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn infants – the most vulnerable members of society.

So thank you, Lisa Jackson. We’ll help in every way we can.

The full text of the letter and list of signers follows.

*                *              *

Allergy Kids • American Academy of Environmental MedicineAssociation of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses • Autism OneAutism Society of Illinois • Autism Society of Western New YorkBreast Cancer Network of Western New York • Citizens for Pennsylvania’s FutureCitizens for Environmental Justice • Community Against PollutionDeep South Center for Environmental JusticeDeirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric OncologyDevelopmental Delay Resources • Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for AutismEnvironmental Working Group • First Signs, Inc. • Iowa Breast Cancer Edu-actionNational Autism Association • Oregon Environmental Council • Plains JusticeSchafer Autism Report • The Rachel Carson Homestead AssociationThe United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation • US Autism & Asperger Association

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
Administrator
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building, Room 300
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

March 10, 2010

Dear Administrator Jackson:

We, the undersigned organizations, sincerely thank you for your announced commitment to reforming the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Collectively, our groups represent millions of members, supporters and activists.

As you are aware, studies examining umbilical cord blood show American infants are being born with hundreds of industrial chemicals, pesticides and other pollutants already in their bodies. Some of these chemicals have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects including asthma, allergies, childhood cancer, obesity, infertility, birth defects and neurological disorders. These children are living proof that the current law is failing our country’s most vulnerable.

In January 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified TSCA as a government program in urgent need of reform and placed it on its “High Risk” list. The GAO report recommended the EPA be given more authority to obtain information critical to assessing the risks chemicals pose to human health and found:

  • TSCA’s regulatory structure impedes EPA’s efforts to control toxic chemicals.
  • EPA lacks sufficient data on potential health and environment risks of toxic chemicals.
  • Under current law, chemicals are considered safe until proven otherwise.

Recognizing the consequences of this regulatory failure, government leaders, health professionals, children’s health experts, environmental, consumer advocacy groups and faith-based organizations are supporting congressional efforts to reform TSCA.

We welcome the core principles you announced on September 29, 2009 in San Francisco that outlined the Obama Administration’s plan to overhaul the nation’s chemical regulatory program and give EPA greater authority to protect the public.

Our organizations and supporters applaud the Administration’s intention to transform our country’s chemical regulatory system and decision to make TSCA reform a top priority.

We appreciate and look forward to your continued leadership as we embark on passing historic legislation aimed at providing greater protection for all Americans in the near future and for generations to come.

If you have any questions about this letter, please contact Jason Rano with Environmental Working Group at 202.667.6982.

Respectfully,

Allergy Kids
American Academy of Environmental Medicine
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Autism One
Autism Society of Illinois
Autism Society of Western New York
Breast Cancer Network of Western New York
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future
Citizens for Environmental Justice
Community Against Pollution
Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology
Developmental Delay Resources
Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
Environmental Working Group
First Signs, Inc.
Iowa Breast Cancer Edu-action
National Autism Association
Oregon Environmental Council
Plains Justice
Schafer Autism Report
The Rachel Carson Homestead Association
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
US Autism & Asperger Association


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2 Responses to “Doing the Right Thing”

  1. Antonia says:

    Does this mean the Kid Safe Chemicals Act could be revived?

    • Elaine Shannon says:

      Antonia, as you probably know, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act hasn’t been reintroduced in this Congress. But our conversations on the Hill give us hope that some version of a toxic chemicals policy reform bill will be dropped in the hopper later this year. Key members of Congress seem to be energized by the passage of the health reform bill, and there’s talk of tackling environmental health issues. Important industry groups have expressed a desire for reform because of the tangle of regulations with which they must comply. It’s far too soon to tell when a reform bill might come up for floor votes. We’re working hard to build a national consensus for reforming the system, which, as you know, is broken.