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Booker, Bipartisan Coalition of Senators Hail Senate Passage of Historic Chemical Safety Law

December 22, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) joined a bipartisan coalition of senators, led by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and David Vitter (R-La.), to celebrate the Senate's historic passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a chemical safety reform bill to overhaul the nation's broken Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). The bill passed the Senate last night by a unanimous voice vote and now has 61 bipartisan cosponsors. 


The 39-year-old TSCA is the last of the major environmental laws passed in the 1960s and '70s that has not yet been modernized. The bill must now be reconciled with the U.S. House of Representatives-passed legislation on the same issue.


Passage of the bill was thanks to hard work from many senators. At a news conference this morning, Udall and Vitter thanked several partners who have worked hard to make the bill stronger and more bipartisan: Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)


Booker said: “Frank Lautenberg would be proud of the Senate’s unanimous vote to approve the bill that bears his name, which brings us a step closer to the end of a long journey he started to strengthen the laws that help keep Americans safe from toxic chemicals. These changes are already decades overdue. The Senate and House need to now work together to quickly get this bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”


Udall said: "After years of negotiations, collaboration and working with stakeholders across the country, we have made tremendous progress toward historic, bipartisan environmental reform. I want to thank Senator Vitter and our partners in the Senate who rolled up their sleeves and worked to make this day possible: Chairman Inhofe and Senator Carper; Senators Booker, Merkley and Whitehouse; and Senators Durbin and Markey; and Senator Coons. Everyone put partisanship aside in order to address the substance and make this bill better. As many as 1,500 new chemicals come on the market each year, but there is no cop on the beat making sure they're safe for consumers or our environment. This bill will require the EPA to test all of them, make sure they’re safe and put the focus where it ought to be — on how these chemicals affect the most vulnerable in New Mexico and across the country. TSCA has been broken from the beginning. Thirty-nine years is too long to go without strong protections for Americans' health and safety. I look forward to working with members of the House on a final product that the president will sign so we can finally protect our children from dangerous chemicals."


Vitter said: “Senator Tom Udall and I, along with our Democrat and Republican colleagues and countless stakeholders, have spent years at the negotiating table to arrive at the best possible compromise to reform our nation’s outdated chemical legislation and allow our industries to remain innovative leaders. Our work is not yet done, however. I’m eager to continue the legislative process with our House colleagues early next year so that we can sign chemical safety reform into law.”


The bill is available HERE and a detailed summary is available HERE.  


The bill is named after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who worked for many years to reform the broken and outdated TSCA. It overhauls the law by requiring — for the first time — that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review new and existing chemicals and regulate them based on the impact they would have on those individuals most at risk: infants, pregnant women, the elderly and chemical industry workers. The bill ensures chemical companies can no longer hide information on their products from public view, and it requires chemical companies to contribute significantly to the cost of regulation and ensure the EPA has the funds to do its job. 


In the 39 years since TSCA was enacted, the EPA has been able to restrict just five chemicals, and it has prevented only four chemicals from going to market — out of the more than 23,000 new chemicals manufactured since 1976.