Get Rid of Toxic Products, Maine Lawmakers Tell Congress

Senators Snowe and Collins Asked to Fix Broken Chemical Safety System; New Poll Shows 92% Support, but Chemical Industry Remains Opposed
For Immediate Release

(AUGUSTA) Reflecting a bipartisan consensus, Maine legislative leaders introduced a joint resolution today calling on Congress to modernize the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Maine moms, dads, businesses, and health care providers have heightened their call for reform of the chemical safety law that they say is obsolete and fails to assure parents that the products they use and purchase are free from dangerous chemicals that threaten the health of their families.

“We’re thrilled that Maine leaders have united to send this life-saving message to Congress,” said Mike Belliveau, President of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “They chose to stand with Maine moms and doctors working to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, not the chemical industry that’s opposed. We need Senators Snowe and Collins to forge a bipartisan fix to our broken chemical safety system.”

President Kevin Raye sponsored the joint resolution (SP 679) with bipartisan support from legislative leadership, including Senate Minority Leader Barry Hobbins, Speaker Robert Nutting, House Minority Leader Emily Cain, and top members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The joint resolution follows editorial support from five state newspapers calling on Senators Snowe and Collins to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847). The federal bill will be voted on in Committee at the end of April, and on the floor of the U.S. Senate soon thereafter.

A new poll released today sought to discover what likely Maine voters want in a U.S. Senate candidate when it comes to the environment and public health. Ninety two percent said it was important for the U.S. government to require safer chemicals in consumer products. The NRDC Action Fund and Environment Maine sponsored the poll of 841 likely Maine voters, which was conducted March 27-28 by Public Policy Polling, a research firm based in North Carolina.

Emily Figdor, Director of Environment Maine, remarked: “There’s overwhelming public and political support in Maine for safer products. The consumer product companies want federal reform too; the only ones standing in the way are corporations like Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil Chemical. We need Senators Snowe and Collins to stand up to the chemical companies and be heroes in the U.S. Senate.”

The Safe Chemicals Act would require chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of their products, while filling gaps in health and safety information provided to the public. The Act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use the best available science to protect pregnant women and children from all sources of exposure to a toxic chemical. The legislation also rewards businesses that innovate to develop safer chemicals and products, which supporters say would be good for Maine’s economy.

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Data sources showing broad support for reform of the Toxics Substances Control Act are pasted below.

Who Supports Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act?

Maine Businesses: 88%
88% of Maine small businesses surveyed support a stronger federal chemicals
Policy that ensures full health and safety testing of all chemicals in commerce
Source: “Safer Chemicals, Better for Business: What Maine Businesses Need from Congress to Improve Market Transparency and Product
Safety”, Toxics Action Center, October 2011

Maine Doctors
The Safe Chemicals Act is supported by Maine Medical Association, Maine
Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Maine Chapter of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, which have over 3700 total members

Maine Lawmakers: 97%
The Maine House and Senate passed similar policies in the 2008 Kid-Safe Products Act (LD 2048) by a vote of 164-9 and the 2011 amendments to the Kid-Safe Products Act (LD 1129) by a vote of 174-0
Source: State of Maine Legislature Roll Calls: www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/rollcalls.asp?ID=280027552 and www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/rollcalls.asp?ID=280040644

Maine People: 91%
In a February 2011 survey, 91% of Mainers believe it is important to “identify
the most dangerous chemicals currently used in making consumer products
and require manufacturers to replace them with safer ones as long as they
are effective and affordable.”

Source: a survey of 401 likely Maine voters were polled between February 15 and 17, 2011 by Kiley and Company, a Boston-based opinion
research firm, on behalf of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1%
A new survey released on Monday, April 2, 2012 and mentioned above shows support of 92% of Maine’s likely voters.