Environmental Protection

Rush and Waxman Release Toxic Chemicals Safety Act

On July 22, U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced H.R. 5820, the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 (pdf).

“The introduction of this legislation marks a major step forward in our efforts to bring to current industry standards an important statute that, once it becomes law, will permanently shine the bright light of public disclosure on a range of chemicals that consumers encounter in a diverse array of products they use each and every day,” said Rush whose subcommittee has jurisdiction over TSCA enforcement.

“I appreciate the tremendous work, testimony, analysis and public comments that a variety of stakeholders and consumer groups have shared as we’ve worked to craft a piece of legislation that both protects consumers while respecting the right of private industry to innovate while protecting businesses’ confidentiality, trade secrets and intellectual property rights," Rush added.

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing on this legislation on July 29.

Waxman explained the process: “Over the past few months, at the request of affected industries, Chairman Rush and I led a robust stakeholder process that involved a serious and candid exchange of views on TSCA reform. This process was extremely valuable and productive. Under this legislation, all chemicals will be reviewed for safety, dangerous chemicals will be restricted or eliminated, and new, safer chemicals will be developed more rapidly to move our economy toward a sustainable future.”

The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 to ensure that the public and the environment are protected from risks resulting from chemical exposure. The bill:

  • establishes a framework to ensure that all chemical substances to which the American people are exposed will be reviewed for safety and restricted where necessary to protect public health and the environment.
  • requires the chemical industry to develop and provide to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency essential data, and improves EPA’s authority to compel testing where necessary.
  • ensures that non-confidential information submitted to EPA is shared with the public and that critical confidential information is shared among regulators, with states, and with workers in the chemical industry.
  • creates incentives and a review process for safer alternatives to existing chemicals as well as a workforce education and training program in green chemistry.
  • promotes research to advance understanding of children’s vulnerability to the harms of chemicals.
  • encourages the reduction of the use of animals in chemical testing.

For EPA, the bill establishes an expedited process to reduce exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances, allows exemptions for chemicals that are already known to be safe, directs the agency to address exposures in "hot spot" locations and to engage in international efforts to control dangerous chemicals.

According to the measure, EPA actions will be transparent, open to public comment, and subject to judicial review, without unreasonable procedural burdens.

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