Baucus: Safe Chemicals Act Supports Innovation, Protects Consumers
Senator Secures Provision to Address Asbestos as Bill Clears Key Panel
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus secured key provisions for Montana as the "Safe Chemicals Act" cleared a major hurdle in the Senate today. Specifically, he worked to speed up the EPA's response to asbestos contamination while also encouraging innovation in developing new, more environmentally friendly chemicals. The Safe Chemicals Act co-sponsored by Baucus passed in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 10 to 8 and will now head to the full Senate for a vote. Senator Jon Tester also co-sponsored the bill.
"It's important to me that Montana families and communities around the country do not have to live through the environmental injustice that Libby experienced. This is a common sense bill that modernizes chemical regulations while making sure innovative companies have the tools they need to develop more environmentally friendly products," said Baucus, who was given the Tribute of Hope Award, The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization's top distinction.
Baucus, a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, fought for provisions in the bill that will require asbestos, including the type of asbestos mined in Libby, to enter into immediate risk management rather than undergoing further study.
"The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) applauds Senator Baucus for supporting the Safer Chemicals Act of 2012 and empowering the EPA's work to strengthen regulatory and enforcement efforts to protect Americans for deadly, but preventable asbestos-caused diseases such as Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and Lung Cancer," said Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
Baucus also secured a provision to encourage innovation in the green chemical technology sector and support new jobs in the emerging field.
"We thank Senator Baucus for his sponsorship and support of the Safe Chemicals Act which aligns with our goal of increasing the safety of consumer products and protecting our natural environment through chemicals made from renewable sources," said Jason Kiely, Vice President of Marketing at Missoula-based Rivertop Renewables. "Consumers are increasingly demanding that the products that touch our families, children and the world around us become safer and more sustainable. This Act will compel transparency of the safety and health impacts of all chemicals, balancing fair regulation with the public's call for protection."
Rivertop Renewables is at the cutting edge of a new category of science - Progressive Chemistry. Merging proven science with renewable resources, Rivertop Renewables is creating an abundant and economical supply of sustainable, biodegradable and non-toxic chemicals and bioproducts derived from renewable plant sugars.
"Senator Baucus is taking a real stand for the health of all Montanans, especially for women and children who are more vulnerable to toxic exposures," said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women's Voices for the Earth. "By co-sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act, he is ensuring a toxic-free legacy in the state. We commend him for his leadership on this important issue."
"I do all I can to keep my family safe from toxic chemicals, but I can't be a scientist every time I go to the store. This bill will help make sure the products I bring into my home are safe and I'm so grateful for Senator Baucus' leadership on it," said Carlyn Myers, Belgrade mother of two.
Whitefish nurse, Kelli Barber, RN,MN co-chairs the Nurses Work Group for Health Care Without Harm and is a member of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Barber hails today's news as important step toward protecting patients while lowering health care costs.
"I'm proud to see Senator Baucus championing a bill that would protect us from exposures to chemicals which are proven to not only cause cancer but a host of other chronic diseases," said Kelli Barber, RN, MN. "The Safe Chemicals Act would significantly reduce health care costs by reducing the risk of developing diseases that are caused by toxic chemical exposure."
"All Montanans deserve homes and places of work free from dangerous and life-threatening chemicals," said James Steele Jr., board member of Montana Conservation Voters and former chairman of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes. "Today, Senator Baucus answered Montana's call for safer chemicals."
READ MORE HERE: WHAT MONTANANS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE SAFE CHEMICALS ACT
Baucus provisions in the Safe Chemicals Act:
· Immediate Action on Asbestos. Asbestos is identified as a substance of very high concern, for which EPA must quickly require exposure reduction measures.
· Encourages Innovation by Improving the New Chemicals Process: Promote innovation and development of safe chemical alternatives, and bring some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.
ABOUT THE SAFE CHEMICALS ACT:
The bill modernizes the "Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976" (TSCA) and gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the tools it needs to require health and safety testing of toxic chemicals and places the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe. Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances.
The Safe Chemicals Act would:
· Require manufacturers to develop and submit safety data for each chemical they produce, while avoiding duplicative or unnecessary testing.
· Prioritize chemicals based on risk, so that EPA can focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm while working through the backlog of untested existing chemicals.
· Place the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their chemicals.
· Restrict uses of chemicals that cannot be proven safe.
· Establish a public database to catalog the information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA's safety determinations.
· Promote innovation and development of safe chemical alternatives, and bring some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.
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