We’ve all known somebody affected by cancer at a young age, autism, infertility, or other health concerns increasingly linked to the prevalence of chemicals in our environment.
In an effort to clean up nature, President Barack Obama signed chemical safety reform into law today — the first updates to the rules in 40 years. The bill, which passed on June 7, gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) new authority to regulate tens of thousands of chemicals.
The past forty years in the U.S. domestically have been defined by the War on Drugs. In the meantime, chemicals waged war on the health of Americans everywhere. The people and the environment paid the price, while bureaucrats criminalized a plant used by mankind for millennia and let dangerous chemicals produced by big businesses to pollute our cities and towns.
West Virginia's Republican senator, Shelley Moore Capito, an original cosponsor on the bill when it was introduced in March 2015, calls the bill "good news for the economy and the environment."
Senator Joe Manchin, also a cosponsor, said in a statement that the new law “will ensure the safety of the chemicals Americans use every day.”
Both Senators say the 2014 Elk River chemical spill, when crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) was released from a Freedom Industries facility into the Elk River in West Virginia, inspired the changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act seeks to standardize nationally the regulation of the $800 billion chemical industry, which has heretofore been the domain of the states.
The EPA now has broadened power to regulate substances. Tens of thousands of everyday chemicals used in household cleaners, car parts, clothing, and furniture will have their rules changed, and safety standards for dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, asbestos, and styrene will be updated. The bipartisan bill will also curb animal testing.
It is likely the biggest environmental achievement by the Obama administration, who stayed out of the public spotlight on the issue. Chemicals have been increasingly linked to autism, cancer, and other health concerns. Cannabis has been linked to relieving pain in those suffering from many such maladies.