House Hearing Confirms “Chemicals in Commerce Act” is as Dangerous as the Toxins it Covers

On Wednesday, March 12 the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing to discuss draft legislation entitled the Chemicals in Commerce Act which, if enacted, would revise the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to eviscerate state and federal laws that protect Americans from dangerous chemicals and grant immunity to the chemical industry.  

A panel of 12 expert witnesses culled from both sides of the aisle confirmed that provisions in this alarming draft would result in serious health and environmental risks, while simultaneously allowing the chemical industry to evade accountability by preempting state laws. The witnesses were comprised of representatives from the chemical industry, as well as physicians and environmental, health and safety advocates. 

Of particular interest to lawmakers was the safety standard for allowing new chemicals onto the market, which often pits a chemical’s threat to human health against the chemical industry’s profit margins. The witnesses acknowledged that the safety standard in the Chemicals in Commerce Act is simply a retread of the failed policies in current TSCA – especially because both permit the chemical industry to impose untested toxins on what witness Dr. Phillip Landrigan described as “the unwitting and unwilling public.” The witnesses were in complete agreement—the safety standard needs a complete revision.

The witnesses were then asked what variables should be considered when crafting a workable safety standard. They were again unanimous in saying that a sufficient safety standard only considers a chemical’s effect on public health risk and exposure, not cost to the industry.

Also at issue was the industry-backed preemption provision, which strips victims of their constitutional rights to bring claims under state law, and restricts states from enacting new laws to protect their residents. Witnesses from Dow Chemical, Intel and the National Chemical Distributors Association were asked to name a specific state law that prevented them from bringing their chemicals to the market – they couldn’t name a single one.

The hearing solidified that the Chemicals in Commerce Act is nothing more than a license for the chemical industry to poison and kill Americans without any threat of being held accountable in court. But there is still time to stop this legislation. Tell Congress to protect your loved ones, not the chemical industry