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March 16 2015

Chemical Reform is Coming

Julie Gunlock

Americans want sensible regulations that balance our need for safety and innovation.  We want to trust that the products we buy are safe and meet rational standards, but don't want companies to have to jump through unnecessary hoops—and even worse, 50 or more sets of hoops when regulations are coming from the state and local level—that just make products more expensive and no safer. 

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the federal law that governs chemicals used in commerce in the United States. The original law was enacted by Congress 1976 and it has not been revised since.

TSCA has done a good job at keeping people safe for almost 40 years (for more info on TSCA reform, read Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini’s very thorough analysis here).

However, demands by environmentalists to update the bill have become deafening and state and local regulations have started to make manufacturing difficult. So, the demand for change isn’t’ just coming from radical environmentalist, it’s now coming from the chemical and manufacturing industries who are having trouble keeping up with the varied and often disparate regulations governing the use of chemicals in products.

As such, Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (CS21) (named for Senator Lautenberg because he introduced the original bill before his death in 2014). The bill has wide bipartisan support since it streamlines regulations, which is a relief to many businesses drowning in red tape, even as it increases some protections. 

However, the bill didn’t satisfy some radical environmentalists or California Senator Barbara Boxer. So, Senator Boxer responded by introducing a competing bill, which contains far harsher restrictions on industry and, if enacted, will cost jobs and will cause the increase of prices on common, everyday products. It might also actually lead to products become less safe as the Boxer bill would make manufacturers replace some long-used chemicals that make products safer.

If Congress is going to update TSCA, they should do so in the manner that will boost the likelihood for sensible regulations that won't needlessly hamstring innovation and raise prices for consumers.  That means they should embrace the bipartisan approach, rather than follow Boxer's lead and bow to radical environmentalists.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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