Shimkus Leads Landmark Update of Chemical Safety Law
WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) to update the way the United States assesses and manages the risks posed by chemicals and the products that contain them passed the House today 403-12.
H.R. 2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, is the culmination of a multi-year, multi-Congress effort to enact the first consequential update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 40 years. The bipartisan legislation is expected to pass the Senate this week and the White House has said President Obama will sign it into law.
“There is a widespread acknowledgement and understandable concern that nobody is well served by the current law,” Shimkus said in his remarks opening debate on the bill. “The legislation before us today is a vast improvement over current law and a careful compromise that is good for consumers, good for jobs and good for the environment.”
The legislation has broad support from industry and environmental groups alike, including a number of chemical manufacturers and distributers with ties to southern Illinois.
“As a chemical distributor and manufacturer with ties to southern Illinois, we are all too aware that the current TSCA law on the books is outdated and broken,” said Patrick Hawkins, CEO of Hawkins, Inc., which has facilities in Centralia. “We’re glad lawmakers worked in bipartisan fashion to pass a bill that will give Hawkins and the broader chemical industry much-needed regulatory certainty while strengthening government oversight and providing consumers with additional confidence in the safety of chemicals. We look forward to President Obama quickly signing this long-overdue reform into law.”
Cabot Corporation and LyondellBasell Industries, both of which have facilities in Tuscola, also praised the legislation.
“At Cabot, we carefully consider the effect of our products on the health and safety of our customers, employees, the communities where we operate, as well as their impact on the environment,” said Carl Troike, the Facility General Manager for Cabot Corporation in Tuscola. “The modernization of TSCA will further ensure the safety of chemical products, but more importantly improve consumer confidence in the safety and regulation of the chemical industry. With a stronger system in place, we can ensure that the chemical industry is able to continue to innovate while delivering chemical products that are safe for their intended use. I’d like to thank Representative Shimkus for helping to drive this effort which is important to ensuring that the American chemical industry remains innovative and competitive.”
“We are very appreciative of the work Congressman Shimkus has done in championing TSCA reform,” said Shawn Cullen, the Plant Manager for LyondellBasell in Tuscola. “This bill positively impacts our facility by improving the effectiveness of U.S. chemical regulations and increasing consumer confidence in the safety of chemicals.”
Modernizing TSCA is necessary to improve protections for public health and the environment, to provide the public greater confidence in the safety of U.S. chemicals, and to promote further innovation and economic growth. Specifically, the legislation:
- Provides the EPA with more direct tools to obtain testing information on chemical substances – an improvement over the lengthy process they now face.
- Restructures the way existing chemicals are evaluated and regulated – allowing a purely scientific evaluation to guide those decisions.
- Clarifies the treatment of trade secrets submitted to EPA and ensures the Agency uses only high quality science in their decision making.
- Updates the collection of fees needed to support EPA's implementation of TSCA, and
- Organizes the Federal-State regulatory relationship in a way that promotes interstate and global commerce, while recognizing the efforts already taken by several States.
“This bill takes a thoughtful approach to protecting people all across the country from unsafe chemical exposure by making long needed improvements to an outdated and ineffective law,” Shimkus added. “It’s imperative we get this bill signed into law as soon as possible.”
Additional information on the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is available HERE.