Handcuffs Finally Off EPA: Mike Belliveau Statement on Final TSCA Legislation

Environmental Health Strategy Center
News Releases

By voice vote Tuesday, June 7, 2016, the United States Senate approved final legislation to overhaul the badly broken federal chemical safety law known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.

Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, and a leader in the national TSCA reform campaign over the last decade, issued the following statement:

“Congress has finally taken the handcuffs off of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  EPA now has the mandate and firm deadlines to protect the health of pregnant women, children and other vulnerable groups from dangerous chemicals in everyday products.

We congratulate Congress on reaching bipartisan agreement to strengthen federal regulation of toxic chemicals.  The final bill represents a vast improvement over the draft legislation introduced three years ago, which we strongly opposed.  And the final legislation is stronger than current law in many respects.

Yet the pace of federal action will be very slow under the new law.  EPA can take 5 to 7 years to determine the safety of each chemical while it works on about 20 of the worst chemicals at a time.  Meanwhile, tens of thousands of untested chemicals remain in commerce along with thousands of known hazardous substances.

For that reason, robust State leadership is still needed to address chemicals that EPA has not yet considered.  Despite some erosion in State authority under the new law, States remain free to restrict chemical uses that EPA hasn’t acted on.  And States can always require manufacturers to disclose which chemicals are in consumer products and to search for safer alternatives.

Strong leadership among the States, our international trading partners, and business leaders in the marketplace, will continue to drive the transition to safer chemicals and healthier families.  Under the new federal law, the US EPA, if adequately funded and motivated, will at last join this collective effort to replace dangerous chemicals with safer substitutes.

We applaud Congress for creating new federal authority to help prevent harm and reduce the burden of disease, disability and early death caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in our daily lives.”