Dem lawmakers reach agreement in negotiating chemical reform bill

In negotiating how best to reform the nation's toxic chemical laws,Democratic lawmakers say they’ve reached an agreement with Republicans that will expand states’ authority to issue protections, signaling a breakthrough in efforts that have stalled in previous years.

Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallEPA deputy says he's not interested in Pruitt’s job Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Overnight Energy: Spending bill targets Pruitt | Ryan not paying 'close attention' to Pruitt controversies | Yellowstone park chief learned of dismissal through press release MORE (N.M.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Senate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? MORE (R.I.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Anti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House MORE (Ore.) and Corey Booker (N.J.) said they have reached an agreement in negotiations on the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, introduced by Udall and Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterSenate panel advances Trump nominee who wouldn't say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly Planned Parenthood targets judicial nominee over abortion comments Trump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge MORE (R-La.).

The bill, which aims to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was initially criticized for restricting states’ rights to issue their own protections for dangerous chemicals and for failing to ban asbestos.

The compromise agreement reached Monday would allow states to regulate a chemical if the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) misses a required deadline in assessing that chemical, would allow states to ask for a waiver to take action on chemicals while EPA is evaluating them for safety and would keep in place any chemical laws that took effect before Aug. 1, extending the former Jan. 1, 2015 grandfather date.

The bill has also been amended to allow the public to challenge any low priority chemical designation from EPA and to clarify that cost should not be considered in regulating toxic chemicals.

While the bill is not perfect, Booker said the bipartisan consensus is a significant step forward in long-stalled efforts to improve TSCA first led by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

“Senator Frank Lautenberg made strengthening federal laws to better protect Americans from toxic substances and pollutants one of his top priorities, working tirelessly to find common ground across party lines to advance important reforms of the Toxic Substances Control Act,” he said in a news release. “Reaching a bipartisan agreement to improve the legislation bearing his name is a fitting way to honor this great New Jerseyan’s legacy.”

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to markup the final bill and vote on whether to pass it through committee.