Statement on H.R. 2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

Seventh Generation has been advocating passionately for the past several years for meaningful reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). We have engaged thousands of consumers and citizen activists, met with dozens of Members of Congress, and organized our industry partners to advocate for legislation that is driven by science, not industry interests; and that protects the most vulnerable among us, including pregnant women, children, workers, and communities that are disproportionately exposed to chemicals. Unfortunately, while the final TSCA reform package makes some improvement over current law, it still falls short of our goals. 

Where the bill falls short:

  1. One of our core priorities for TSCA reform is that it preserve the right of states to act to protect the health of their citizens. While the final package preserves the right of states that, like Seventh Generation’s home state of Vermont, already protect their citizens by regulating chemicals, it hampers the ability of other states to do the same, and restricts all states from taking more aggressive action moving forward; we believe that no state should be restricted from taking actions to protect its citizens. 
  2. We are concerned that the bill continues to allow industry to hide behind claims of “confidential business information,” or “CBI,” to avoid transparency and public scrutiny. 
  3. Finally, we are disappointed that H.R.2576 watered down strong animal rights language that would have required animal tests be used only as a last resort after all other methods acceptable to EPA have been exhausted. 

Despite these fundamental objections, we want to acknowledge the progress that has been made in this bill, and the positive impact our allies and consumers had on the process. 

Where the bill was improved: 

  1. We are pleased that the bill achieves another of our key priorities by requiring that EPA identify any vulnerable populations that are disproportionately affected by exposure to toxic chemicals, such as children, pregnant women, and workers.  
  2. Additionally, the burdensome cost-benefit standards that had been stopping EPA from acting on chemicals, including known carcinogens such as asbestos, have been scaled back – a change that aligns with our belief that health and safety should drive regulatory decisions, not cost. 
  3. Finally, we are glad that the bill prioritizes action on known bad actors and high-risk chemicals such as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals, or PBTs.

We understand that no bill is perfect, and that compromises have to be made to garner bipartisan support in a deeply divided Congress. We are proud of the work that we, our consumers, and our allies in the business and advocacy community have done to make improvements to the final bill. And we thank the champions in Congress – Senators like Barbara Boxer from California, Ed Markey from Massachusetts, and Cory Booker from New Jersey; and Representatives like Frank Pallone from New Jersey, Paul Tonko from New York, and Peter Welch from Vermont – who worked furiously to make TSCA reform meaningful. While we cannot support the final bill, we appreciate the work they and others did to put the interests of citizens before big business. 

Our work is far from over. Seventh Generation will continue to lead the charge to ensure that consumers have the tools and information they need to make educated choices about the products they use – and to keep their families safe. As our next step, Seventh Generation has launched a campaign calling on all cleaning product manufactures to #comeclean and fully disclose ingredients on pack. We’re working with Congressman Steve Israel (NY) to advance H.R. 5205, the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, which requires the full disclosure of chemicals in institutional and household cleaning products. As long as there is ongoing doubt about the safety of the chemicals used in consumer products, we will work to ensure that consumers have the right to know what chemicals are used in their homes and offices. We fight on.