Progress for Children's Safety
Some days you might not think we could pass a strong environmental bill in this Congress. But after years of negotiations and collaboration, I'm thrilled we’ve proven that wrong. The Senate unanimously passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a bill I wrote to reform the law and finally help protect children and families in New Mexico and around the country from dangerous chemicals.
Many Americans believe that if they can buy a product at the grocery store or hardware store, the government has tested it and determined that it's safe. But that's not the case.
Ever since a court decision in 1991, the law we've had in place since 1976 — called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — has been virtually useless. The Environmental Protection Agency is unable to prevent potentially dangerous chemicals like BPA, formaldehyde or styrene from being used in everyday products. The law is so broken, the EPA has even failed to ban asbestos.
Nearly 40 years is far too long for children and families to go without protection. Thankfully, after a lot of hard work, we're on the verge of historic, bipartisan reform that's years in the making and decades overdue.
My bill overhauls the current law by requiring — for the first time — that the EPA review the tens of thousands of new and existing chemicals and regulate them based on the impact they would have on those who are most at risk: infants, pregnant women, the elderly and chemical industry workers. It ensures chemical companies can no longer hide information on their products from public view, and requires them to contribute significantly to the cost of regulation. It finally gives the EPA the authority and resources it needs to do its job.
We have strong support from environmental, conservation, good government, industry, health and labor groups. I'm grateful to all of the advocates who have worked tirelessly for our health and safety. The bill is named after the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, a public health crusader who worked for many years to fix the law.
We're just a few steps from passing this much-needed chemical safety reform through Congress. The existing, broken law — TSCA — is the last of the major environmental laws of the 1960s and '70s to be overhauled. With strong support coming from New Mexico and families across the nation, I’m confident that we will finally get chemical safety reform signed into law by the president.
We’re making progress, and soon we'll have a cop on the beat protecting our kids from toxic chemicals. Thanks for standing by my side.
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