New Bill Marks Disgraceful Setback In the Fight For Chemical Safety

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For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WASHINGTON – New legislation endorsed today by a Senate committee to update the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 is a shameful victory for the chemical industry that wrote the underlying bill and has fought long and hard to avoid strong environmental protections, EWG said in a statement.

The proposal advanced on a vote of 15-to-5 in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. 

Ken Cook, EWG president and cofounder, said:

Today's action marks a disgraceful setback to efforts to protect the environment and human health from the thousands of toxic substances that pollute our air, drinking water, lakes and streams, wildlife, thousands of consumer products – and even the blood of newborn American babies. 

EWG strongly opposes the legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M. and David Vitter, R-La. The committee rejected key amendments that would have ensured that chemicals are safe, would have preserved a strong role for states that have stepped in to fill the federal regulatory void and would have ensured that the most dangerous chemicals were quickly reviewed and dealt with by the Environmental Protection Agency. All of those strengthening amendments failed. 

In our view, if left unchanged this legislation will ensure that the toxic chemical onslaught that America’s families face every day will continue for decades to come. EWG will fight to the end to fix this shameful legislation – or kill it.

Time and again, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, Chemtura, Albemarle and other chemical companies have hidden information about toxic chemical dangers and exposures. They have bankrolled front groups to undermine science and regulation and hidden the truth about chemical risks from their employees, from their neighbors in the communities where they operate and from regulators, legislators and the public. Even the tobacco industry could learn a few tricks from chemical companies when it comes to lying to the public about their dangerous products. 

It will be left to consumers, responsible businesses and consumer watchdogs to demand safer products and chemicals, because it is clear that we cannot expect Congress to stand up to the chemical industry and demand protection on our behalf. 

Every senator who voted for this bill today has constituents who have breast cancer, or a kid with a brain tumor or a learning disability. Every senator who today approved the chemical industry’s legislation represents expectant parents whose baby will be exposed to hundreds of industrial chemicals while it is still in the womb – chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, brain damage, reproductive disorders and other health problems.

Those constituents will be right to ask their representatives in Washington why it was that they voted with polluters and against public health, knowing what we know about harmful chemicals in 2015.  

We wonder if they’ll answer those outraged constituents with the same platitude EWG heard again and again as we lobbied for responsible legislation: “We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”