10.06.15

Bipartisan Chemical Safety Reform Legislation Supported by Senator Baldwin Moving Forward

Senate vote expected this Thursday to overhaul the nation's broken chemical safety law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today applauded the fact that bipartisan chemical safety reform legislation is moving forward in the Senate this week. The comprehensive legislation, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, to overhaul the nation's broken chemical safety law is expected to be voted on Thursday in the U.S. Senate.

“Reform is long overdue, and I am proud to support this bipartisan bill,” Senator Baldwin said. “It’s important that we advance protections for public health and the environment, while also ensuring that it happens at a pace that works for our manufacturing economy. This bipartisan legislation does just that and is a meaningful reform. I’m pleased that we have worked across party lines on bipartisan reforms that will move forward this week in the Senate.”

In Wisconsin, the bipartisan legislation is supported by businesses including S.C. Johnson, BASF, Proctor and Gamble, Mattel - American Girl, Air Liquide and ChemDesign. Advocacy groups nationwide also support the bill, including March of Dimes, National Wildlife Federation, Humane Society of the United States, Environmental Defense Fund, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, American Alliance for Innovation and American Chemistry Council.

The chemical safety reform legislation was introduced by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and David Vitter (R-LA). The bipartisan bill overhauls the broken and outdated 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time in almost 40 years. Previous efforts to reform the law have died for lack of bipartisan support, but an unprecedented number of senators—from liberals to conservatives, as well as stakeholders ranging from environmental groups and health advocates, to labor unions and sportsmen—now back comprehensive reform. A similar bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this summer.

The Lautenberg Act would provide a national solution, requiring the EPA to act on all new chemicals entering the marketplace, providing the resources and authority to finally begin regulating unrestricted chemicals that are already on the market—including asbestos—and ensuring that chemical companies would no longer be able to hide indefinitely the composition of their products from the public. The law would require the EPA to consider the impact on the most vulnerable populations—pregnant women, infants, the elderly and chemical workers—when regulating chemicals. It would also grandfather in existing state laws and respect states' rights to pass their own chemical safety laws.

In July, Senator Baldwin joined a bipartisan Senate coalition as a cosponsor.  Over half the Senate, representing 33 states supports the legislation.

Named for the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a longtime champion for a strong chemical safety law, and supported by his widow Bonnie, the Lautenberg Act passed the Environment and Public Works Committee in April on a strong bipartisan vote of 15-5.