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Measure to Strengthen Chemical Law Backed by Senate Panel

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted along party lines to approve a measure that would toughen chemical-safety laws overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The measure, which was approved by the committee 10-8, would require safety testing of all industrial chemicals and force chemical makers to show that new compounds are safe. Under current law, the Environmental Protection Agency can only call for safety testing after evidence is presented showing that a chemical is dangerous.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA requires companies to provide analyses of certain chemicals they make or use. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, the author of the overhaul measure, said rules in place since 1976 need updating.

“While the panel voted along party lines, with all Republicans opposing the measure, outside the Beltway support for stronger protections against toxic chemicals is not a partisan issue,” Daniel Rosenberg, director of the toxic chemicals reform project at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, said in a statement. “This sets the stage for the Senate to finally give the Environmental Protection Agency the tools it needs to protect all of us from toxic chemicals found in products we use every day.”

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