This is a recent email correspondence I received from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in response to applauding his effort on toxic chemical reform:
Thank you for contacting me in support of modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). I share your belief that Americans deserve strong protections against exposure to potentially toxic substances. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), roughly 200 out of more than 84,000 chemicals registered under TSCA have undergone EPA safety testing since it was enacted in 1976, and only five of them have been banned. TSCA is widely considered to be a toothless statute that fails to protect public health and the environment from harmful chemicals, and it is long overdue for serious reforms.
Two TSCA reform bills – the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act (S. 725) and the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697) – were introduced earlier this year. While I supported many of the concepts in S. 725, the bill had no Republican support and little prospect of advancing. The original version of the bipartisan S. 697, on the other hand, had several serious flaws.
In the months since these bills were introduced, I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to add some of S. 725’s ideas to a new version of S. 697. For example, we accelerated the pace of review for asbestos and other chemicals known to threaten public health and ensured priority reviews for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBTs). We also restored the ability for states to regulate chemicals until the EPA finalizes related regulations and to adopt and enforce federal regulations. The improved version of S. 697 was recently approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee, with strong bipartisan support, but has yet to be considered by the full Senate. If you would like, you can read more about the revised bill here.
Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will stay in touch about this or other matters of importance to you.
United States Senator
Thank you, Senator Whitehouse!