May 19, 2019

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Why The Chemical Safety Improvement Act Must Be Strengthened and Passed

Seventh Generation's CEO responds to a CSRwire editorial about the proposed Chemical Safety Improvement Act.

John_replogle_seventh_generation

by John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation

Editor’s Note: On June 10, 2013, CSRwire's Francesca Rheannon wrote about the proposed Chemical Safety Improvement Act. In this post, Seventh Generation's CEO responds to that post and discusses how his company is campaigning to improve the bill.

Here are a few excerpts from Rheannon’s post about troublesome loopholes in the proposed bipartisan legislation for context:

1. Replacing the precautionary principle with “acceptable risk.”

The Orwellian language of risk management that weighs the health of the public, the poor, children and animal species against the corporate bottom line always lays a heavy hand on the latter part of the scale. It also cleverly places any attempt to phase out a harmful chemical right into the gun sights of chemical industry lawyers and the Office of Management and Budget’s cost-benefit bean counters.

2. Replacing cutting edge real world investigation with the outmoded textbook conventions of yesteryear.

The alarmingly increasing incidence of diseases such as cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s cannot be explained away by cheerful explanations like “better diagnoses” and “living longer.” Even obesity is being seen as a cause not only of “lifestyle”, but the ubiquity of hormone-like industrial chemicals that are making our fat cells larger and more numerous.

The understanding is emerging that these growing health crises like cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s are being driven by the cumulative assault of hundreds of different chemicals on our bodies...The SCA would have explicitly acknowledged this — a regulatory first. But the compromise bill is blind to this kind of aggregate or cumulative exposure, ignoring the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences to take them into account when regulating chemical safety.

3. Making Exemptions Easier, Transparency Harder.

Another loophole yawning in the CSIA is the language on exemptions. The SCA would have required EPA to justify why it was giving a chemical a pass — say, for economic or national security reasons.It would have had to meet the burden of proof. But the compromise bill waves the chemical through only on Scout’s Honor.

Finally...the CSIA remains vague on information requirements, allowing the chemical companies to continue to veil the potential hazards of their operations while giving lip service to compliance.

One rubric companies use to keep information from regulators is to claim “confidential business information.” The compromise bill allows those claims to be grandfathered in, thereby giving thousands of potentially toxic chemicals a free pass to continue poisoning our children and us.

Seventh Generation’s Response

Seventh Generation has been working passionately for years to eliminate exposure to toxic chemicals that harm human health by supporting sound federal toxics control legislation, working with our industry to promote ingredient disclosure and use of safer chemicals, and educating consumers about toxics.

One of our highest priorities is working for a strong, effective law to regulate toxic chemicals in the United States. We speak loudest through our products: we won’t use chemicals of concern and disclose all ingredients right on our packaging.

Consumer Education Campaign On Chemical Safety

Our current Campaign for a Toxin Free Generation has given us a platform from which to educate our consumers around protecting their families and children and has allowed us to mobilize their support in calling on Congress to strengthen and pass this legislation.

And for the first time in over a generation, we stand on the verge of passing a comprehensive chemical reform policy that would enhance greatly the health and safety of millions and millions of children and families.

This is an important time. We believe the bi-partisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act includes crucial and necessary reforms to the 30-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). However, we also believe that in order to fully protect our communities, the bill must be strengthened.

Five Ways To Make The Bill Better

Our NGO partners, Women’s Voices for the Earth, The Breast Cancer Fund, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families do not support the legislation in its current form. We stand with them in acknowledging that the current bill falls short in a number of important areas:

  1. The legislation must respect the right of states to protect their residents if the federal government fails to do so or is slow to act.
  2. Science, not industry influence must drive policy. The bill must go much further to protect scientific integrity from undue industry influence.
  3. It must allow for the Environmental Protection Agency to take fast action on the worst chemicals and include specific timetables for such regulatory actions.
  4. It must protect the most vulnerable among us, including pregnant women, children, workers and communities who are disproportionately exposed to chemical exposures.
  5. The legislation should require that the public has access to information regarding the safety of chemicals; that the onus is on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate chemicals are safe before they are allowed to enter the marketplace; and that the federal government invest in developing safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. 

Seventh Generation will work with its allies to ensure that these key areas are addressed and that the bill is strengthened and passed.  

A Call to Action for Consumers

Here’s what you can do. Write to your legislator. Let them know you want Congress to strengthen and pass chemical policy reform. To find out how – and more – click here.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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