States’ Environment Commissioners Call for Overhaul of Nation’s Failed Toxic Chemicals Policy
U.S. Senate Hearing Today on Federal Chemical Policy Reform
“Once again states are leading the call to fix our badly broken chemical safety system,” praised Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “New state laws are helping, but states can’t go it alone. We need Congressional action to pass federal legislation to protect family health by requiring safer chemicals,” he said.
The release of the State Principles for TSCA reform coincides with the first U.S. Senate hearing on chemical hazards and federal chemical policy. In today’s hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee three government witnesses are expected to testify about the importance of fixing problems with TSCA to better protect public health and the environment: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson; Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program; and John B. Stephenson, Director of Natural Resources and the Environment for the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
“Now is the time for our Senators to take a stand,” stated Amanda Sears, chair of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. “Based on Maine’s leadership, Senators Snowe and Collins should signal their support for safer chemicals reform,” she said.
When TSCA was enacted in 1976, more than 60,000 chemicals were “grandfathered” in without any requirement that they be shown to be safe for health and the environment. In the 33 years since its passage, the U.S. EPA required chemical manufacturers to test 200 chemicals for health hazards and has only banned some uses of 5 chemicals.
Joining Maine’s Environmental Commissioner David Littell in issuing the States’ Principles on Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act were state agency directors from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
The states are calling for reforms that strengthen and fund the federal law while preserving state implementation and management rights; protect the most vulnerable including pregnant women and children; require manufacturers to provide chemical health, safety and use data; demonstrate that chemicals in commerce are safe; identify safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in keeping with the principles of green chemistry; and assess the safety of emerging chemicals of concern before they enter into widespread commerce.