Environmental Protection

Lautenberg's Legacy May Be Modernized TSCA

The late senator from New Jersey worked with another member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, conservative Republican David Vitter, on the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, introduced just two weeks ago.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., died June 3 at age 89 due to complications from viral pneumonia, according to a statement posted by his Senate office. It mentioned several career highlights of the five-term senator, including passing the law to ban smoking on airplanes and writing the laws that set the nationwide .08 blood alcohol limit and 21 as the legal drinking age.

One of the final legislative highlights occurred less than two weeks before Lautenberg's death, and it's not yet completed. He announced a bipartisan bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, after working out an agreement on the legislation with Sen. David Vitter, R-La., ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Lautenberg also served on that panel, which is chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

The bill, S. 1009, would update and improve the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by requiring that all chemicals be screened for safety and securing new health and safety testing for priority chemicals.

"This bill would finally update our laws to protect children and families from toxic chemicals, which is why the editorial boards of some of the country's most prestigious newspapers are calling for its passage," Lautenberg said. "The current law is completely ineffective, and every minute we wait to move forward puts our families at greater risk." He announced more co-sponsors and support by former top Environmental Protection Agency toxics officials, including the assistant administrator responsible for TSCA implementation during President Obama's first term.

The bill has been referred to the Environment and Public Works Committee. Its co-sponsors include Vitter and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

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