Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Bill Establishes Regulatory Certainty ; Updated Chemical Safety Standards Seek to Protect Health, Environment

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Bill Establishes Regulatory Certainty ; Updated Chemical Safety Standards Seek to Protect Health, Environment

Article excerpt

As a staunch advocate of chemical safety reforms, I am thrilled that The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act will finally be signed into law. This much-needed overhaul, which has passed Congress and is on its way to the presidents desk, will protect families and communities, and it is necessary for ensuring we can properly manage toxic chemicals and prepare for the unlikely event of a chemical accident.

Likewise, this bill signals that we can still compromise in Washington when people are committed to coming together to find common-sense solutions.

In the more than 30 years since our country passed the Toxic Substance Control Act, more than 80,000 chemicals have been registered in the United States.

Of those 80,000, startlingly, only about 200 have been tested and reviewed and only five chemicals have been banned.

These are the chemicals we use in our homes and our businesses every day. These chemicals make up the products we are exposing our families and our children to. It is truly difficult to understand how we have even come this far without better oversight. Back in January of 2014, West Virginia was blindsided when an unknown chemical, crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), was released from a Freedom Industries facility into the Elk River.

Not only were hundreds of thousands of our citizens left without drinking water for several days, but we had very little information on the long-term health and environmental impacts of the water contamination. Had the chemical undergone proper testing and review, we would have had a clearer answer.

After pushing for further studies into the potential health impacts of crude MCHM, it was thankfully concluded that residents who were impacted by the spill should expect no longterm health effects.

I was encouraged by those findings, but the bottom line is that we should not have had to wait more than a year to know if our health or our environment would be impacted by crude MCHM.

For years, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg made it his top priority to update our chemical laws. I was honored to help broker a deal between him and Senator Vitter two years ago to start moving forward on a meaningful piece of legislation. …

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