House panel approves toxic chemical safety bill

The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a toxic chemical safety bill on a nearly unanimous vote on Wednesday, clearing the bill to hit the House floor by the end of the month. 

The TCSA Modernization Act would overhaul the federal Toxic Substances Control Act for the fist time in decades. The bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate chemicals in consumer goods and quickly issue risk management regulations on them. Those rules would apply nationally, but the bill also gives states the chance to issue their own regulations.

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Manufacturers would also be allowed to petition the EPA to issue a ruling on the safety of the chemicals in their products.  

Lawmakers praised the bill as a win for consumers, manufacturers, the environment and even the EPA, since it removes a handful of regulatory requirements officials must consider when evaluating toxic chemicals. 

The bill "is a real breakthrough in regulatory reform," bill sponsor Rep. John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusCongress: Expand access to physical therapy for underserved communities Lawmakers, Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water Dems look to bypass EPA with asbestos ban MORE (R-Ill.) said at a committee hearing Tuesday night. "It keeps the best of the old TCSA and retools some of the provisions that hindsight tells us were not working very well."

Every member of the Energy and Commerce Committee voted to approve the bill except for Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who voted present. Eshoo said she is concerned about the bill's treatment of state chemical laws.  

Republican leadership has scheduled a vote on the bill by the end of the month. Similar legislation is moving through the Senate and backers say their bill has wide bipartisan support

"Human health and this environment deserve the highest level of protection, but the status quo of almost no protection is simply unacceptable," bill co-sponsor Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said.