By Jonathan D. Salant | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders, including ranking Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., on Wednesday offered their own version of legislation to update the way the government regulates toxic chemicals.
The Senate is considering a similar bill named for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who championed such legislation when he served on Capitol Hill. Like the House version, the Senate bill has support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Lautenberg’s successor, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Pallone (D-6th Dist.) is to highlight the House proposal Thursday during a tour of the PQ Corp. facility in Avenel.
The legislation “would be a significant and positive step in ensuring that toxic chemicals are removed from everyday products,” Pallone said. “I am proud to work to continue Senator Lautenberg’s legacy of leadership on chemical safety, and I look forward to continuing our hard, bipartisan work to advance the bill through full committee and the House.”
Both bills are designed to update rules for regulating toxic chemicals, and can prevent states from implementing more stringent requirements once the federal government has evaluated the safety of a chemical. Current state regulations could remain in place.
The measures would replace an outdated 1976 law, which failed to ban such chemicals as asbestos.
The House version provides that an Environmental Protection Agency ruling would apply in all states. Manufacturers of existing chemicals can pay a fee to the EPA to evaluate the safety of their products. The EPA also can act on its own. The agency would have three years to complete any evaluations and 90 days afterwards to propose new rules.
Besides Pallone, the bill is being sponsored by committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.), and the subcommittee’s ranking member, Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).