Obama 'strongly supports' chemical overhaul bill

Obama 'strongly supports' chemical overhaul bill
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The Obama administration said it “strongly supports” the bipartisan compromise chemical safety bill rolled out Monday and wants Congress to quickly pass it.

The backing from the administration came Monday from the White House, but it was no surprise, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had long supported congressional efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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The White House said the bill that was amended Monday, the Frank L. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, aligns with the priorities the administration outlined in 2012 for TSCA, including giving the EPA the power and resources to review new chemicals, provide appropriate deadlines and increase public transparency about substances.

“While not perfect, the bill meets the high goals set by the administration for meaningful reform and we commend the House and Senate for taking this historic step,” the White House said Monday in its statement of administration policy.

“If the federal government is to restore public confidence in the safety of chemicals, which are used in commerce and are an integral part of the nation's economy, it is essential that the Congress provide EPA with the necessary tools and authorities to effectively assess chemicals and regulate risks,” it said. “This legislation provides a solid foundation for advancing these goals and improving public health and environmental protection.”

The full House and Senate are expecting to vote on the legislation this week after years of debate and negotiations. It has widespread support in Congress and among industry and environmental groups, though some environmental and health advocates are cautious about it.

The last major lawmaker holdouts, House Democratic leadership, backed the bill Monday after the latest tweaks to make it easier for states to, in certain cases, regulate chemicals on their own, independent of the federal EPA.