Lautenberg's bill, the "Safe Chemicals Act," would give the federal Environmental Protection Agency wide powers to regulate the chemical industry and encourage development of more environmentally friendly substances, The New York Times reported. Instead of presuming chemicals are safe until proven dangerous, manufacturers could be required to provide information about chemicals they use in consumer products, the newspaper said.
"America's system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken," Lautenberg said in a statement. "Parents are afraid because hundreds of untested chemicals are found in their children's bodies. EPA does not have the tools to act on dangerous chemicals, and the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws so that their customers are assured their products are safe."
The chemical industry has its doubts about parts of the bill, which would be a makeover of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the American Chemistry Council, said his group is concerned its proposed decision-making standard "may be legally and technically impossible to meet."
"The proposed changes to the new chemicals program could hamper innovation in new products, processes and technologies," Dooley said. "In addition, the bill undermines business certainty by allowing states to adopt their own regulations and create a lack of regulatory uniformity for chemicals and the products that use them."
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said at a water conference in Washington she was "really thrilled" by the bill's introduction.