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Congress Just Passed a Huge Environmental Law

Rules on chemicals get first update in 40 years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2016 10:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – It may have gotten lost in all the election news, but a substantial piece of legislation has just managed to clear Congress: A massive overhaul of federal laws regulating chemicals sold in the US is headed to President Obama's desk for his signature—the first such update in 40 years. Some coverage:

  • Science looks at the specific new regulatory powers granted to the EPA.
  • The number of chemicals the EPA has issued regulations on, under the old rules: Just five. UPI explains.
  • Bloomberg sees a related problem: The agency gets more authority to review products, but may not have the resources to follow through. Consider this line: "By the time EPA finishes work on the chemicals it has prioritized, the children of today’s children will have been exposed to them—probably for years."
  • More on the nuts and bolts from the Washington Post, which calls it "the most sweeping environmental measure to pass Congress in a quarter-century." Of note: It has the support of both the chemical industry and many (but not all) environmental groups.

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  • Industry groups were OK with it because they prefer one federal law as opposed to a "patchwork" of different ones in states, notes the Wall Street Journal.
  • Politico credits a "perfect storm" of circumstances for the measure (called the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act), including growing consumer concern over kids' toys and even furniture.
  • One big opponent: Rand Paul, as a separate Washington Post story details.
  • The environmental group EWG lays out why it doesn't think the law is strong enough here.
  • But a New York Times editorial says it's about time this happened.
(Read more FDA stories.)

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