Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—who serves as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee for Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight—released the following statement today in recognition of the fifth anniversary of landmark reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which Merkley helped to negotiate:
“It’s been five years since Congress took a big step forward toward the toxic chemical regulation the American people deserve. But a massive amount of work remains ahead of us in protecting Americans’ health from these substances. Across the country, Americans will buy products today that contain toxic chemicals, while thousands of workers and others will fight the deadly illnesses toxic chemicals have caused. Those realities are frustrating, heartbreaking, and completely unacceptable.
“Every American—regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how much money they have—deserves the peace of mind of knowing they aren’t being poisoned by their air, water, soil, home, or everyday household products. Nothing about that should be controversial. So today, let’s reaffirm our commitment to finishing the job Congress started in 2016, and deliver the protections we need to save lives.
“That means strengthening the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement of our reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act, so it can accomplish its goal and work the way it was intended to work. I’m fully committed to leading that charge, and will continue to do all that I can to urge my colleagues to join this fight.”
Merkley was instrumental in negotiating and passing the bipartisan Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which made significant reforms to TSCA in order to give the EPA the power to ban asbestos and require the agency to complete a review of asbestos by today’s date in 2020. Given that neither a ban nor a final review have been completed, Merkley used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee last week to urge Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan on the need to issue rules for the top ten most prevalent toxic chemicals, including asbestos, during the Committee’s hearing on the EPA’s budget request for the fiscal year 2022. “You can’t study things forever. There’s a point where this is a risk. Let’s get it out of our products. That’s your job,” Merkley pressed during the hearing.