President Obama on Wednesday signed legislation into law that overhauls the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.
“For the first time in 20 years we are updating a national environmental statute,” Obama said during the signing ceremony. “For the first time in our history, we’ll actually be able to regulate chemicals effectively and we’re doing it in the same overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion as happened with those pillars of legislation to protect our air and our water and our wildlife.”
The House and Senate both passed TSCA bills last year, before reaching a deal reconciling the bills’ differences in May. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers – the House voted 403-12 to pass it, while the Senate advanced it to the president’s desk by voice vote.
The bill would strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate dangerous chemicals, taking some authority away from state regulators. Final decisions issued by the EPA to regulate chemicals will pre-empt any conflicting state regulations and the EPA will also be required to restrict use of any chemical substance presenting an unreasonable risk with a range of options, including imposing warning requirements and chemical phase outs or bans.