Toxic substance legislation on brink of long-awaited reform

Published: Jun. 7, 2016 at 5:06 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are targeting chemical reform. After many decades without an update, it appears Congress is ready to send an updated piece of legislation that addresses chemical safety to President Obama’s desk.

After a slight delay before the Memorial Day recess, Senator Jim Inhofe, R - Okla., says the bipartisan Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) should come up for a vote this week.

"I’ve never seen a more diverse crowd in total agreement than we are with TSCA,” said Inhofe.

The bill addresses a need to bring TSCA into the 21st century. First crafted in 1976, the original law was meant to regulate chemical substances that touch products consumed by the American public. However it hasn’t been significantly updated since its inception.

"There’s been no consistent regulation over a chemical…is it good, is it bad, is it dangerous? And we need to determine that,” said Inhofe.

The Senator says the new legislation would subject all chemicals to a review from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), strengthening safety, and keeping the agency accountable in their reporting.

The reason the Senate hasn’t voted on TSCA yet is because Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he didn’t have enough time to read over the legislation, even though the Inhofe camp says he had months to do so. Paul put a hold on the vote that he has now lifted.

"It’s something that has to be done,” said Inhofe. "Every manufacturer, every company out there uses chemicals.”

As of now it is unclear when the vote will be, but Inhofe’s staff is confident it will be this week, and that it will pass.