Happy Holidays: Senate Bill Won't Protect Children from Imported Toxic Toys

Mike Belliveau, Environmental Health Strategy Center
News Releases

Last night, the U.S. Senate passed legislation by unanimous consent to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.  The bill must be reconciled with a much different bill approved in June by the U.S. House of Representatives, before final TSCA reform can become law.

Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of Environmental Health Strategy Center, issued the following statement in response to the Senate action:

“Although improved, the Senate bill remains badly flawed.  In a shameful give-away to chemical manufacturers and other multinational industries, the Senate bill would actually weaken current law in two shocking ways.

First, the Senate bill makes it harder for the federal government to halt imported products containing toxic chemicals banned in the United States.  Especially during this holiday shopping season, American families expect a greater assurance of product safety.  About 95% of all toys, and 75% of all shoes and clothes, sold in the U.S. are manufactured outside this country.  Chemical safety reform should make it easier to ensure the safety of imported products, not more difficult.  This “toxic toys” provision should be struck from the final legislation.

Second, the Senate bill takes away states’ rights in a manner unprecedented in the history of federal environmental policymaking.  It blocks states like Maine and California from restricting dangerous chemicals after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency simply begins to study a chemical’s danger.  That means that known dangerous chemicals will remain unattended at any level of government for years.  Even though the federal government hasn’t yet acted on a high priority chemical, states will be banned from taking action.  Final TSCA reform must eliminate this regulatory void.  Congress should not give the toxic chemical industry a “get out jail free” card at the expense of the States.

We look forward to the next, most critical step in the process.  The differences between the Senate and House bills must be ironed out before final legislation is sent to the President’s desk for approval in 2016.  The House bill lacks these flaws in the Senate bill.  The House bill does not give a free pass to toxic toys or over-reach on federal preemption of the States. 

We ask Congress to remain focused on assuring the safety of chemicals in consumer products.  Congress should strike all attempts to shield chemical manufacturers and product importers from health and safety regulations.”