Booker, Menendez, Pascrell Honor Sen. Lautenberg's Legacy Following Passage of Landmark Chemical Safety Bill
Bill reforming broken chemical safety laws and championed by the late senator headed to President Obamas deskJune 13, 2016
PATERSON, NJ – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (both D-NJ) were joined by the family of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg in honoring the late senator’s legacy following passage of landmark legislation he spent his career championing that protects families and children from toxic chemicals found in everyday products.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which passed the Senate unanimously last week and is now headed to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law, makes much-needed reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. The bill overhauls the way tens of thousands of chemicals used in everyday products are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“It’s a profound honor to stand alongside Sen. Lautenberg’s family and celebrate the legacy he left that will protect the health and safety millions of Americans for generations,” said Sen. Booker, a member of the Senate committee responsible for EPA oversight. “I am proud of the long-overdue improvements I fought to include in this bill, including provisions that strengthen EPA’s ability to regulate toxic chemicals, allow states to continue to co-enforce with EPA, and minimize animal testing when scientifically reliable alternatives exist. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Bonnie Lautenberg and her family for their commitment to getting this critical bill across the finish line, which will now serve as a fitting tribute to one of New Jersey’s greatest public servants.”
“Frank Lautenberg always said that you can’t put a price on the health of our families, and his presence will be felt by every healthy child and every parent who will rest a little easier knowing that dangerous chemicals are not making their way into their homes,” said Sen. Menendez, who served with Lautenberg in the Senate. “This bill will finally give EPA the authority to ban unsafe chemicals, and sets an aggressive, but attainable schedule for evaluating them.”
"Senator Frank Lautenberg fought tirelessly on behalf of New Jerseyans to ensure their health and well-being was protected, particularly from dangerous chemicals. He dedicated his career to fixing this outdated and ineffective law," said Rep. Pascrell. "This TSCA update can protect residents from dangerous chemicals, while recognizing the importance the industry plays in creating jobs and driving our regional economy. The bill grants EPA significant new authority, for instance the ability to unilaterally require testing on chemicals it suspects are harmful to the environment or unsafe for vulnerable populations, such as children, pregnant women, and workers. While not perfect, the TSCA reforms that the Congress has passed will ensure the EPA can prevent toxic exposures and is a dramatic improvement over current law."
“Seeing this bill finally pass is a dream come true because it meant so much to my late husband,” said Bonnie Lautenberg. “He was a passionate environmentalist and was so aware of the chemical dangers surrounding us and wanted nothing more in the last seven years of his life than to see this 1976 TSCA bill rewritten to protect every citizen of this great United States of America. He felt rewriting this bill was even more important than his great legacy piece of legislation, No Smoking In Airplanes. He was all about saving lives and wanting us all to live in a cleaner and healthier place. My family and I are most grateful to the hard work of all the individuals involved in getting this done.”
"My father would be so proud to know that this law will carry his name and his legacy of fighting for the health of all Americans. This was a long term goal of his that has finally been achieved,” said Ellen Lautenberg.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) worked for many years to reform the broken and outdated TSCA. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act overhauls the law by requiring — for the first time — that the 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.
“For too long, we have allowed toxic chemicals to threaten our health, putting our kids at risk,” said Environmental Defense Fund Vice President Dr. Sarah Vogel. “Thanks to the leadership of Cory Booker, Bob Menendez and others in Congress, generations of Americas will have greater protection from the threat of toxic chemicals. Sen. Booker has ably completed the legacy of Frank Lautenberg and we are all grateful.”
Sen. Booker, whose negotiations with the bills authors resulted in significant improvements to the legislation, spoke on the Senate floor in May urging swift passage of the bipartisan, bicameral agreement. His remarks can be viewed here.