Greenpeace Slams Revised US Chemicals Act

01.06.2016 -

Environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace has criticized the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) passed by the US House of Representatives as “the weakest of all US environmental statutes,” which it said “will leave the majority of the 85,000 chemicals in toys, clothes, homes, schools, and workplaces unregulated and untested for their health effects.”

Instead of drafting new legislation based on the generally more progressive state rules passed since the original TSCA act took hold, Congress listened to the “chemical lobby” and produced a toothless act that limits stronger state regulation and keeping weak federal safety standards, Greenpeace said.  

As TSCA hasn't empowered the EPA to regulate any new substances for the last 40 years, the organization said, 38 states began regulating dangerous chemicals, including bisphenol A, formaldehyde, lead, mercury and toxic flame retardants. Now, “Congress is ignoring environmental, public health, worker safety, and environmental justice leaders who have championed chemical policy reform for decades. Instead, they chose to listen to the chemical lobbyists from Dow, DuPont, Exxon and their trade associations, like the American Chemistry Council (ACC).”

The new legislation, which will go to President Barack Obama to sign after it passes the US Senate, would roll back most states' authority to take more protective action, Greenpeace said, adding that it would enable the chemical industry to choose up to half of the “meager 40 chemicals” that EPA may prioritize over the next three and a half years. What’s more, it would also be easier for companies to import products containing dangerous chemicals.

The organization has urged Obama to “veto this hijacking of public health.”

If Congress had prioritized the public's health instead of the interests and campaign contributions of the chemical lobby, it could have enacted legislation as strong or stronger than the EU’s REACH, Greenpeace remarked.