Labor-Environmental Partnership Urges Legislation to Create Jobs, Improve Public Health and the Environment at Senate Committee Hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 17, 2011) Urging the passage of the Safe Chemicals Act, BlueGreen Alliance Director of Chemicals, Public Health and Green Chemistry Charlotte Brody will testify today before the joint meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health.
The legislation would modernize and reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act, moving the burden of proving the safety of a chemical to the producer and ensuring that the health of American workers are better protected from the impact of chemicals they are exposed to on the job.
“The Safe Chemicals Act would spur innovation, it would create jobs, it would improve public health and the health of workers, and it would protect the environment,” said Brody. “The BlueGreen Alliance strongly urges the Senate to move forward with this important legislation to usher in a new generation of safer chemicals that can and should be produced in the United States.”
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 was supposed to regulate chemical substances that presented an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. However, more than 60,000 chemicals then produced and sold in the United States were grandfathered in under TSCA without any safety information. Since 1976, only 200 chemicals have been reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and just five have been restricted.
The Safe Chemicals Act would modernize this outdated law by putting the burden to prove the safety of a chemical on the producers, provide transparency for consumers on the safety of chemicals, and encourage innovation in the market for chemicals, spurring job creation in an industry that has lost 300,000 jobs in the last two decades. While employment in manufacturing generally fell by 24 percent during that time, chemical manufacturing jobs fell by 38 percent.
“Unsafe chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility, asthma and nervous system disorders,” said Brody. “But the sentence is being doled out indiscriminately to workers, babies in utero, the people who live near and work in chemicals plants. We have an opportunity to change this law, to improve the health and safety of chemicals, and to create jobs while we’re at it. The Safe Chemicals Act will help us do that.”
“The Safe Chemicals Act would modernize TSCA to reflect what we’ve learned about chemicals and human health since the 1970s,” continued Brody. “This is not about politics. It’s about protecting public health and the health of workers and the environment, and it’s about the creation of a new set of American manufacturing jobs making chemicals that are safe in the 21st century.”