Manchin Cosponsors Landmark Legislation to Protect Families & Communities from Toxic Chemicals
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act fixes broken chemical regulatory scheme and ensures EPA can act based on latest science to protect all Americans
Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin cosponsored major bipartisan legislation to protect Americans from toxic chemicals by updating the United States’ outdated chemical regulatory program. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is the result of a bipartisan agreement that Senator Manchin helped to mediate after nearly two years of deliberations and negotiations. Lawmakers, stakeholders, and affected community leaders – like those impacted by the Freedom Industries spill in January 2014 – helped craft this groundbreaking legislation that ensures the EPA will safely oversee consumer products to better protect American families. The legislation creates a predictable and transparent federal system to regulate the safety of chemicals based on the latest science, provides greater regulatory certainty to the chemical manufacturing industry and strikes a balance between state and federal roles in chemical safety management.
“I am proud to be a cosponsor of this groundbreaking legislation that will modernize our severely outdated chemical regulatory system,” Senator Manchin said. “In honor of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, who dedicated his life to chemical safety, I urge my colleagues to move forward and pass this bipartisan bill that protects the health and safety of all Americans by making sure the chemicals we use in everyday products are not hazardous. This bill proves that bipartisan compromise can still work in Washington when people are committed to coming together to find commonsense solutions, and I hope it serves as a model for future agreements.”
“Frank believed that fixing America’s chemical law could be his most significant legacy — in a career devoted to protecting public health,” said Bonnie Lautenberg, widow of Frank R. Lautenberg. “The new bipartisan proposal from senators Tom Udall and David Vitter builds important improvements upon the solid foundation Frank laid with Senator Vitter in 2013. I strongly encourage senators in both parties to step up and help finish the job of ensuring our families are protected from toxic chemicals.”
The current 40-year-old law governing the use of chemicals in everyday products, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is widely considered to be ineffective since it has failed to ban even dangerous chemicals like asbestos. After years of unsuccessful efforts to rewrite the law, in 2013, Senator Manchin helped strike a deal between the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg and Senator Vitter to introduce the first-ever bipartisan proposal to update TSCA.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act builds on and strengthens the 2013 proposal by ensuring that cost cannot be considered in determining the safety of a chemical; defining “vulnerable populations” and requiring their protection; strengthening deadlines for the EPA to evaluate existing chemicals; adding new structure and requirements for confidential business information claims; and mandating that new chemicals cannot be manufactured until the EPA has approved them.
Sixteen cosponsors joined Senator Manchin to introduce the bill, including seven additional Democrats and nine Republicans.
Original cosponsors include Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), David Vitter (R-La.) Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
To read the full text of the bill, please click here.
Core provisions of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act:
Strengthens the Safety Standard
• Mandates that EPA base chemical safety decisions solely on considerations of risk to public health and the environment. The legislation makes clear that costs and benefits may not factor into a chemical safety evaluation.
• Eliminates TSCA’s “least burdensome” requirement for regulating a chemical, which prevented EPA from banning asbestos.
Mandates safety reviews for new and existing chemicals
• Requires that all chemicals in commerce, including those "grandfathered" under TSCA, undergo safety reviews.
• Requires a safety finding for new chemicals before they can enter the market.
Strengthens Protections for the Most Vulnerable
• Places greater emphasis on and requires protection of those who may be more exposed or particularly vulnerable to the effects of exposure to chemicals, and clearly defines them for the first time as including infants, children, pregnant women, workers and the elderly.
Sets Aggressive and Attainable Deadlines
• Imposes at least 15 deadlines for EPA action, developed with input from the Agency.
• Creates additional requirements and sets reasonable limits on Confidential Business Information claims
• Requires that confidentiality claims be substantiated up front and imposes a 10-year, renewable time limit on such claims.
• Requires EPA to review claims that protect the identities of chemicals in commerce.
Preserves Existing Private Rights of Action
• Clarifies that the existing right of Americans to sue and seek damages when they believe harm has been done is not affected by the bill.
• Makes clear that nothing in the bill affects the ability of litigants to obtain confidential information in a judicial proceeding.
Balances State and Federal Regulations
• Grandfathers in state regulations on chemicals enacted prior to Jan. 1, 2015.
• States can act to restrict a chemical until and unless EPA takes up that same chemical and addresses the same uses.
• State actions that do not restrict a chemical or are taken to address a different problem are not affected.
• Includes a waiver process for states to set different regulations than EPA during the safety assessment and after a final rule.
• Once EPA acts on a chemical substance, a uniform federal standard is applied across the nation, which creates more regulatory certainty and equally protects citizens across the country.
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