WASHINGTON – Regulatory reform has been a widely discussed solution in Washington to cut bureaucratic red tape and boost our economy. In a Republican-led Congress, we achieved it.
After years of hard work and negotiations, the passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act marks the first time in more than a quarter of a century that Congress has sent reform of a major environmental law to the president's desk.
Over the last 40 years, American families have been exposed to untested chemicals on a daily basis due to the shortcomings of the well-intended but broken Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). Job creators and manufacturers have also suffered from inconsistent guidance of what chemicals can be used in their products.
The Lautenberg Act is the common-sense, conservative solution, creating unified protections for American families and American businesses while providing new safeguards and oversight requirements.
When working on the Lautenberg Act, we took into account the oversight that the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is regularly conducting over the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act and addressed problems we see in these laws in order to make TSCA a smarter, more conservative regulatory agent that won the support of all principal stakeholders.
As a result, the Lautenberg Act will require that the EPA's regulatory decisions be based on the best available science and require the agency to show their work to the public and Congress.
No longer can chemical regulations that are the result of cherry-picked data justifying a politically motivated regulatory outcome be forced on job creators at the state or federal level. Instead, the EPA will need to justify its decisions by a substantial evidence standard and by using transparent scientific information while also taking into account costs when proposing any potential regulation.
We also looked to the Constitution for guidance to address the unworkable and insufficiently protective regulatory patchwork under the current law. Because current law has resulted in only a very limited preemption of chemical regulations, it has empowered a couple larger, liberal states to impose its regulations on the rest of the nation.
As a result, job creators have been faced with a decision: Either embark on a costly venture to create new manufacturing facilities and distribution channels to get reformulated produces into different states in order to meet inconsistent standards or forcefully adhere to the most strict, often unreasonable and frequently non-protective standard of the largest state.
We addressed the state preemption issue by instead giving all states a voice in the regulatory process while also providing industry with a consistent, reliable standard for regulating chemicals and protecting our citizens.
We sought to balance states' rights and recognize efforts states have already taken in the absence of a functioning federal program while continuing to support and protect interstate commerce.
Congress can responsibly update environmental laws and do it in a way that is consistent with conservative principles. With the Lautenberg Act, the law can once again work to protect public health while also supporting our economy, which includes the $800 billion chemical industry that impacts more than seven million related American jobs and is the catalyst for almost all U.S. manufacturing.
The Lautenberg Act is proof that the Republican majority is working for Americans and is accomplishing things that have been impossible to achieve for decades.”
Editor's Note: This opinion piece originally appeared June 22 in the Washington Examiner. It was written by Senators Capito (R-W.Va.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; David Vitter (R-La.), lead-GOP sponsor of the Lautenberg Act; Mike Crapo (R-Idaho); and Mike Rounds, chairman of EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight.