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Let the House Bill Make History

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05.10.2016

Congress has passed two bills to fix our broken chemical safety system under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and negotiations on long-needed federal chemical reform are coming down to the wire. Reasonable chemical safety reform for the nation is within reach.

But we’re worried: the Senate bill still on the table could block state action to protect children’s health from toxic chemicals in products.

“The Pause”

Passed in December 2015, the Senate bill would block states from restricting dangerous chemicals years before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes final action on a chemical.

The bill’s early preemption of potential state action was not included in the bill the House of Representatives passed in June 2015. Sometimes referred to as “the pause,” it means that a state can’t act on a toxic chemical—for up to four years—even though the EPA hasn’t acted.

The bottom line? Pregnant women and children could be needlessly exposed to health-threatening chemicals.

Blocked

The Environmental Health Strategy Center and national cosponsors released a report last week based on data the State of Maine required manufacturers to disclose on uses of a group of toxic chemicals called phthalates (THAL-eights) in household products available across the country.

Phthalates cause learning disabilities, asthma and allergies, and harm reproductive health. It’s important for parents to know how their children are exposed, and for manufacturers to replace phthalates with safer substitutes.

Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act makes it possible for our state to adopt a rule to require companies to phase out phthalates, if safer alternatives are shown to be available, effective, and affordable.

But if the Senate bill to reform TSCA becomes law, its early preemption pause will block Maine and other states from banning the use of phthalates in consumer products. While EPA studies the problem, Maine and other states will be blocked for up to four years from taking action to protect children from toxic phthalates.

Stand Up for Your State

To say that reform of the nation’s chemical safety system is overdue is an understatement.

For more than a decade, the Strategy Center has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to achieve meaningful reform of TSCA that will better protect the public from the multiple health hazards of toxic chemicals in products for our children and families.

In that same time period, the citizens of Maine have repeatedly let our state representatives in Augusta and our Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., know how important it is to them that the State of Maine is a national leader in protecting public health from dangerous chemicals in everyday products.

With final efforts to reconcile the differences in the two TSCA-reform bills still underway, we encourage our Maine delegation to strongly support the U.S. House of Representatives in making history. House members should continue to stand up for states’ rights and reject, once again, the over-reaching early preemption in the Senate TSCA reform legislation.