Public interest groups step up pressure on toxic chemical reform

Public interest groups are pushing lawmakers to pull the best provisions from House and Senate bills reforming the nation’s toxic chemical laws.  

In a letter Monday to the key lawmakers negotiating a deal, 125 groups led by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families offered recommendations for how to combine the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which passed the Senate last month, and the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015, which passed the House in June.

“In a Washington frequently paralyzed by gridlock and litigation, a bill focused on TSCA’s biggest shortcomings has the best chance of succeeding in implementation,” the groups said in their letter to eight lawmakers, including Sens. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Senators slam Pentagon officials Generals contradict Biden, say they advised leaving troops in Afghanistan LIVE COVERAGE: Senators press military leaders on Afghanistan MORE (R-Okla.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE (D-Calif.), and Reps. Frank Upton (R-Mich.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.).

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The final legislation that passes Congress, they said, should include the Senate bill’s clear requirement to protect the public and its fee provision to generate $25 million annually for the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the House bill’s call for expedited actions on Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic, or PBT chemicals and asbestos.

The groups, which include the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Public Citizen, Earthjustice, the National Medical Association, said the final bill should not place new hurdles on the EPA.

“Requirements for new policies and guidance should be minimized and a costly and time-intensive inventory update should also be left off the final bill,” their letter said.