Selected category: TSCA Reform

What an honor

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

After 30 years in Washington, maybe I should be more jaded, but today was a big day. Not only did I have the incredible honor this morning of meeting with President Obama, but it was just prior to getting to witness his signing of a bill that I think is going to make a big difference in our lives.

When I started working on and with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) some 15 years ago and began trying to help build the case for its reform, never in a million years did I contemplate such an honor, let alone being able to work so closely on and then witness the historic signing of this strong new law.

The small group that met with the President included not only people in Washington who worked for this reform but also those who have been impacted by our broken law or stand to benefit the most from the new law:  Young adults and parents of children who have had chronic diseases and conditions like cancer and autism for which there is growing concern about the contribution of chemical exposures.   Read More »

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A strong new TSCA

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

Those are four words that I thought I might never get to say and see over the many years I’ve worked on this.  But today, at a ceremony to be held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, President Obama will sign the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

The Lautenberg Act amends the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), our nation’s main chemical safety law, for the first time since its passage 40 years ago.  Those amendments are extensive, reaching into nearly every aspect of TSCA – reflecting the need for a top-to-bottom overhaul.

I’ve already blogged recently about both how this was made possible and why it is so significant (see here and here).  And I’ve developed some resources for those wanting to understand what the Lautenberg Act does and how it changes TSCA for the better.

The path leading to today’s historic Presidential signing opened up just over 3 years ago, when two Senators who couldn’t have been more different politically – the late Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. David Vitter – came together to introduce the first bipartisan TSCA reform legislation.  At that time, I and others here at EDF had a tough decision to make:  lend our support to give momentum to a bill that we knew had serious flaws, or withhold that support – lest it give momentum to such a bill.

We took the calculated risk – and it was a big one – to support the bill for four reasons.  Read More »

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Resources for understanding the Lautenberg Act

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

With last Tuesday’s passage by the Senate of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2576), a new TSCA is on its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

To assist everyone in understanding what the new law will do and how it compares to original TSCA, I have prepared two new documents:

And here are links to our earlier analyses of the bill:


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Why passage of the Lautenberg Act is a really big deal

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Reproduced with permission from Daily Environment Report, 111 DEN B-1, 6/9/16, 06/09/2016. Copyright © 2016 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://

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Now that TSCA reform has passed despite a polarized Congress, many are wondering how it came about. Richard Denison at the Environmental Defense Fund has been engaged for many years on toxics legislative reform and explores the critical junctures that opened up the opportunity to update this major environmental legislation despite multiple obstacles.   Read More »

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Congress passes strong TSCA reform, first major environmental legislation in over two decades

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

Today, the truly remarkable happened:  The U.S. Senate passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act with strong bipartisan support and sent it to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.  The bill came to the Senate floor tonight by unanimous consent and passed on a voice vote.  Senate passage follows the House’s passage of the same bill by a margin of 403-12 on May 24.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.  There were many false starts and blind alleys along the way, and more twists and turns than the Steel Dragon 2000.  It took years of work by many Members and their incredibly dedicated staff to reach this accomplishment.

From the outset, it seemed that this effort would succeed only by finding a bipartisan path forward, and then working to both move and improve the bill.  For EDF, that strategy seemed essential to building both the support and the momentum needed to get a bill of this magnitude to the President’s desk and signed into law.  The late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the bill’s namesake, started us down this path:  He had the political courage to reach across the aisle and the foresight to envision getting to this moment.   Read More »

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TSCA reform on hold again – and over what this time?

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

Well, it looks like American families will have to wait a bit longer for better protection from toxic chemicals, with today’s decision by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to place a hold on the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.  Earlier this week, the House passed the legislation by a vote of 403-12, and it was due to come to Senate floor today – until Sen. Paul announced his hold.

Arguing that he needed more time to review the bill, Sen. Paul cited brand new concerns over two provisions that were already in the Senate bill when it came to the Senate floor last December by unanimous consent and passed on a voice vote with no objections.  Those provisions involve criminal penalties and state preemption.  Let’s look at each:   Read More »

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