April 15, 2015

Udall: Momentum Building for Bipartisan Chemical Safety Reform

WASHINGTON - Bipartisan momentum continues to build for legislation to reform the nation's broken chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that two additional senators - Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and John Thune (R-S.D.) - have cosponsored the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Udall's bill is named for the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a longtime champion for a strong chemical safety law, and it has the support of his widow Bonnie and numerous advocates for public health and the environment as well as labor groups, former officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and attorneys general from New Mexico and several other states. Detailed information about TSCA reform and support for the bill is available HERE.

"I'm extremely pleased to announce the support of Senators Brown and Thune. Momentum is building for reform here in Congress as Americans learn that most states - including New Mexico, Ohio and South Dakota - have no ability to test and keep our kids safe from dangerous chemicals," said Udall, who authored the Lautenberg Chemical Safety bill with Senator David Vitter (R-La.).

"Most Americans believe that the government has tested the chemicals they can buy at the grocery store or the hardware store and determined that they're safe - but it's not true. There's no cop on the beat because the law is so broken. That's why it's so important to pass meaningful reform now, while we have bipartisan support," Udall added.

"The system for safeguarding against toxic chemicals is badly broken and in need of an update," Brown said. "This bipartisan proposal is an important step to ensure that consumers, families, and workers can have confidence in our chemical safety laws."

"This legislation will provide transparent guidance and certainty for the industries it will impact while preserving consumer safety," said Thune.

The support of Brown and Thune brings the total number of cosponsors to 22. Previously announced cosponsors are: Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

Udall's announcement comes as the U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearing on its own bipartisan legislation to reform TSCA. A poll released earlier this spring shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans want to see Congress pass bipartisan chemical safety reform that will ensure the federal government has the tools to test and ban dangerous chemicals and keep families and communities safe from toxic substances.

The poll, by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR) for Environmental Defense Fund, found that after hearing balanced positive and negative information about the Udall-Vitter bill, voters overwhelmingly saw the bill as a major improvement and wanted Congress to pass it now - not wait for an alternative.

Support for the bill is broad and deep, the poll found, with solid majority support from respondents in both parties, even those who believe there is too much government regulation of business and industry.

"This poll shows how important it is to build on the momentum we have and pass chemical safety legislation now," Udall said. "We have a rare window of opportunity. Bipartisan support for major environmental legislation like this doesn't come around often. But with hundreds of new chemicals coming onto the market each year, Americans want to ensure they and their families are protected. We have a moral obligation to pass this legislation and ensure our families and communities are protected."

GQRR surveyed 800 Americans likely to vote in the November 2016 election. The sample is subject to a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.