House ‘Chemical Reform’ Bill Would Erode Protections for Health, Environment

Washington, D.C. – Legislation proposed by Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) to reform federal chemicals management law would leave the public at even greater risk of exposure to toxic substances than under the outdated current law, said Environmental Working Group in a statement today.

“The Shimkus plan codifies the worst features of current law while tying the hands of states that seek to protect their own citizens from harmful chemicals,” said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of EWG.

Lowlights of Shimkus’ “Chemicals in Commerce Act,” which would update the 1976 Toxics Substances Control Act, include:

•    It would perpetuate the existing weak safety standard based on “unreasonable risk,” adding layers of cost-benefit analysis and tipping the scales in favor of chemical companies at the expense of public health.

•    It does not include disadvantaged communities in the definition of “potentially exposed sub-populations” that would be factored in when EPA decides how to prioritize a chemical for safety review.

•    It contains sweeping preemption language that, among other things, would prevent states from regulating chemicals that EPA considers a low priority.

•    It includes broad protections for confidential business information that would allow chemical companies to keep secret the chemical identity of their products.

•    It would not require the chemical industry to pay fees to EPA to defray the cost of ensuring the safety of chemicals.

•    It would not require companies to submit minimum data sets to EPA to provide the critical baseline information needed to review a chemicals’ safety.

•    It would not establish meaningful deadlines for regulatory action to protect public health.

•    It does not require that EPA conduct a minimum number of chemical reviews annually.

“The only thing this bill would do is add additional layers of protection for the chemical industry allowing it to continue unleashing hazardous materials into commerce,” added Cook.

Read EWG’s full assessment here.

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