Chemical regulation bill tabled

Second revision still doesn't go far enough: committee

A new chemical regulation bill has been panned as not going far enough by U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer.

The bill is supposed to meet concerns over the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, known as TSCA, which is widely seen as an ineffective law to protect workers from harmful chemicals.

This is the second attempt by senators to get it right after the first draft was called a fake reform by some environmental groups despite support from the Environmental Defence Fund for its introduction as a chance for an eventual breakthrough.

The attempt to come up with new chemical regulation legislation shifted from a Democratic bill, the Safe Chemicals Act in the previous session of Congress, to the industry-backed bipartisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act. The American Chemistry Council, a trade group which represents such chemical powerhouses as Dow, DuPont, BASF Corp. and 3M, says reforming TSCA is its top legislative priority. The ACC spent nearly $6 million (U.S.) in lobbying expenses in the first half of the year.

Boxer, a Democrat from California, says the latest draft is still too sweeping in its nullification of state regulations.

Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defence Fund, says there are major incentives for both Democrats and Republicans to have a stronger system.

``We're still optimistic that even if doesn't happen in this Congress, that all of that work that's been done provides a path forward to actually getting a bill passed,'' he says.

Latest stories