Senate Passes Udall’s Landmark Chemical Safety Bill

U.S. Senator Tom Udall hailed the Senate’s passage of his bipartisan Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a landmark chemical safety reform bill to overhaul the nation’s broken Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) and finally protect families from dangerous chemicals. Udall and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wrote the bill, which passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote.

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 topic.

“This is an exciting day for the many thousands of Americans who have worked for chemical safety reform over the last four decades,” Udall said. “Passing the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Reform bill with overwhelming support this evening is a great milestone, and I thank the numerous other senators who have worked to make this day possible.”

“This bill is the product of years of collaboration and positive input from lawmakers across the country, who understand that we need a national solution to our broken chemical safety law,” Udall continued. “It will ensure that Americans in New Mexico and all states have necessary protections from toxic chemicals. With thousands of chemicals in existence, and as many as 1,500 new chemicals coming on the market each year, 39 years is too long to go without protections for children and families. I look forward to working with members of the House on a final product that the president will sign, but tonight we made tremendous progress toward historic bipartisan environmental reform.”

It has been cosponsored by 60 members of the U.S. Senate, including 25 Democratic Senators and 35 Republicans since its introduction in March, and was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June.

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 Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who worked for many years to reform the broken and outdated TSCA.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.