Senate Passes Bill to Protect Americans from Dangerous Chemicals

Legislation Updates Decades-Old Law Regulating Toxic Substances

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), to overhaul the outdated Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). This new bill, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, updates regulations on chemicals used to make everything from cleaning products to fertilizer and car parts, keeping pace with scientific advancements to ensure that chemical products are safe for intended use. The bill previously passed the House on a 403-12 vote and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

This chemical reform bill addresses a concern of significant importance to many Alaskans—the presence of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). Through this legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to create and prioritize an initial list of high priority chemicals for risk evaluations, and due to Senator Murkowski’s efforts, PBTs must be given special consideration on that list.

“We just made a major step when it comes to protecting public health and the environment. This reform bill is a clear improvement over the current law, modernizing the decades-old system regulating chemicals,” said Senator Murkowski. “It addresses fundamental flaws that have hindered the EPA’s ability to protect human health and the environment from chemical risks. Alaskans deserve greater confidence regarding the safety of chemicals used in homes and businesses, and this bill gives them that. I’m pleased that we were successful in enhancing the bill based on concerns we heard directly from Alaskans.”

The bill:

  • Provides the EPA with tools needed to obtain testing information on chemical substances – an improvement over the lengthy process they now face;
  • Restructures the way existing chemicals are evaluated and regulated – allowing a purely scientific evaluation to guide those decisions;
  • Updates the collection of fees needed to support EPA's implementation of TSCA;
  • Establishes a mandatory duty for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with enforceable deadlines;
  • Requires the EPA to determine that new chemicals are safe before they enter the market;
  • Forces companies to reexamine their supply chains for newly regulated hazardous chemicals;

Limits the EPA’s ability to pre-empt state oversight of commercial chemicals.