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Groups hail toxic chemical reform bill

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While some environmentalists are calling legislation introduced Tuesday to reform the nation’s chemical laws flawed, others are hailing it as a fix for a badly broken regulatory system.

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that Sens. Tom UdallTom UdallSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes We can achieve our democratic ideals now by passing the For the People Act Haaland nomination generates excitement in Native American communities MORE (D-N.M.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R-La.) unveiled Tuesday reforms the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 and forces the Environmental Protection Agency to base chemical safety decisions solely on considerations of risk to public health and the environment, and eliminates the TSCA's "least burdensome" requirement for regulating a chemical, which prevented the EPA from banning asbestos.

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“Americans shouldn’t have to worry whether chemicals in their homes pose a threat to their families,” Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, said in a news release.

“With lawmakers coming together from both sides of the aisle, this is the best chance in a generation for us to move past an obsolete and badly broken law to provide strong protections for all Americans.”

Under the TSCA, the EPA has been unable to regulate chemicals such as asbestos, a known carcinogen.

Industry groups called the new bill a path to passing more effective law.

“A stronger federal chemical law should reflect progress in science and technology and advance further innovations,” Ernie Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Cleaning Institute, said in a statement.

 “A well designed, updated law can further enable our industry’s ongoing work to develop and innovate more sustainable cleaning products.”

The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, however, said the legislation fails to even make a dent in the problem of toxic chemical exposure and restricts state governments from passing their own protections.

“While Senators Vitter and Udall have made some positive changes, the bill is not up to the important task of protecting public health,” Andy Igrejas, the group’s director, said in a statement.

The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the TSCA reform bill on March 18.