After years of negotiations, the U.S. Senate passed the first major environmental law amendment in the last 4 decades. On Thursday, December 17th, , the S.697, the updated Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was passed by a voice vote in order to upgrade the nation’s primary chemical control law of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
According to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, “The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act updates a broken, nearly 40 year-old law to protect the health of American families, protect our environment, and provide regulatory certainty to American businesses”. Inhofe also supports that the new law will bring many economical benefits to local communities, environmental organizations, and stakeholders. Based on predictions, this regulatory certainty will help future investment to be responsible for over 700,000 new jobs along with $293 billion in permanent new domestic economic output by 2023.
Quick steps have been done since March 10, when S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was introduced. Initially, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing and on April 28, corrected the text of the old law, up out of committee in a vote of 15 to 5 with bipartisan support. Finally, on October 6, Senators Inhofe, Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and David Vitter (R-La.) joined industry leaders and environmental groups in a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to highlight the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
The amended legislation has been created after years of collaboration and positive input from lawmakers across the country. Senator Udall stated that: “This bill 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”
However, the legislation amendment has to comply with the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015, which was passed by the House of Representatives in June 2015, before it is signed into law. TSCA is a law that controls the use of chemicals in everyday products and has not been updated since 1976.
As the new bill has been vastly improved over the original one, all participants are looking forward to the implementation of the amended law. While the old legislation would have been harmful to American families, because it overrode state laws and set up an ineffective and nonexistent way to regulate most toxic pollutants., the new law will allow the voices of those who have been most deeply affected, including nurses, breast cancer survivors, asbestos victims, and children, to be heard, said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee in brief.