Obama signs first chemical safety reform bill in 40 years into law

President Barack Obama signed chemical safety reform legislation into law on Wednesday that was led by U.S. Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, H.R. 2576, reforms the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The bill establishes new tools for the EPA to ensure that chemicals are safe for consumers and a new system to evaluate risks posed by chemicals already on the market.

“Getting TSCA reform signed into law demonstrates that, when we work together, Congress can still accomplish great things on behalf of the American people,” Shimkus, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, said. “This law will protect consumers and the environment while giving industry the certainty they need to grow and create jobs.”

Under the new law, the EPA must complete risk evaluations within three years, while risk management rules must be completed within 90 days of completed risk evaluations.

“It took some time, but with perseverance and dedication, we can finally fly the ‘W’ on chemical safety reform,” Upton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said.

U.S. Reps. John Moolenaar (R-MI) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), the co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Chemistry Caucus, applauded the president for signing the TSCA reform bill into law.

“With President Obama’s signature (on Wednesday), America’s Toxic Substances Control Act is updated for the first time in 40 years,” Moolenaar and Lipinski said in a joint statement. “This is a tremendous bipartisan accomplishment and it represents what can be done when leaders in Washington work together. This new law strengthens environmental protections for all Americans, recognizes the value of more than 800,000 people employed in the chemical industry and keeps America as the world leader in research and innovation.”

U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) wrote in an op-ed published by the Washington Examiner that the EPA’s regulatory decisions would be based on the best available science thanks to the chemical safety bill.

“Congress can responsibly update environmental laws and do it in a way that is consistent with conservative principles,” the senators wrote. “With the Lautenberg Act, the law can once again work to protect public health while also supporting our economy, which includes the $800 billion chemical industry that impacts more than seven million related American jobs and is the catalyst for almost all U.S. manufacturing. The Lautenberg Act is proof that the Republican majority is working for Americans and is accomplishing things that have been impossible to achieve for decades.”

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