In June 2015 the House will be considering a bill that will reassess the manner in which toxic chemicals are regulated. The passage of this bill through the legislature has been complicated by lobbyists and millions of dollars in donations. Despite the fact that lawmakers on both sides of the isle are promoting their own agendas vis-à-vis pipelines and climate change, there is clear consensus that the chemical industry needs a safety overhaul.
Forty years ago the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) was passed. And since that time there has been no federal ban or regulation of chemicals. What has transpired is the passage of state laws to regulate certain chemical substances, and chemical processes. According to the TCSA Modernization Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have greater authority for the testing of chemicals (new and old) and states would have a harder time to enact more stringent legislation.
The passage of this bill is far from a done deal, however. Next in line is the Senate version of the bill, but several bills failed to make their way through Congress previously. One of the key changes in the legislative arena has been that of Democratic Senator Tom Udall. Once a fierce environmentalist, he has switched positions and is now being supported by big players in the chemical industry.
While the chemical industry is by no means a single entity, it is a massive industry with powerful players. During 2014 alone, the industry spent almost $65 million lobbying politicians in Washington D.C. The chemical industry in the U.S. also spent upwards of $12 million donating money to campaigns, political action committees, and political parties. All these initiatives are geared towards rewriting the rules and regulations regarding the treatment of toxic chemicals in the industry.