By Julian Hattem - 12/12/13 06:00 AM EST
A group of food, cleaning, clothing and other companies is launching a new coalition to push Congress to reform the nation’s toxic chemical law.
The 1976 Toxic Chemical Safety Act is widely considered out of date and ineffective, but the businesses are siding with environmental and health groups about concerns in an overhaul bill currently in the Senate.
The household products company Seventh Generation and the American Sustainable Business Council are leading the effort, along with Annie’s organic foods and the clothing lines Patagonia and Eileen Fisher, among others.
They have concerns about the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which is currently under negotiations in the Senate. Business groups including the American Chemistry Council say that the bill would address some of their longstanding concerns with the existing chemical safety law, and more than two dozen senators on both sides of the aisle have come out in support of it.
Since the legislation was introduced in May, though, many environmental and public health groups have expressed concerns that it leaves federal regulators too weak, does not set firm deadlines and prevents states from enacting more stringent chemical laws.
“Chemical policy reform must protect the most vulnerable among us, and require public access to information regarding the safety of chemicals,” the companies wrote.
“Reform must respect the rights of states to protect their residents when the federal government fails to do so, and require the Environmental Protection Agency to take fast action on the most harmful chemicals."