Friday April 12, 2013 | 02:02 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Angus King has joined an effort to re-write federal chemical safety laws to strengthen protections for consumers, an issue that has largely fallen to the states.

Maine environmental and health groups have complained for years that the federal Toxics Substances Control Act needs a major overhaul in order to ensure that chemicals used in everyday products do not pose a risk to consumers, especially children.

Maine state lawmakers have passed some of the nation’s most aggressive chemical safety laws, requiring manufacturers to phase out use of some flame retardants and plasticizing agents – including BPA – in products sold in the state. Additional bills are pending this legislative session.

Those bills have encountered strong pushback from industry groups that contend the state regulations are unnecessary and overly restrictive.

A bill to re-write aspects of the Toxics Substances Control Act passed a U.S. Senate Committee last year but died after it failed to receive any action on the Senate floor before the end of the 112th Congress in January.

King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, is among more than two dozen senators to sign onto the 2013 version of that Senate bill. The “Safe Chemicals Act of 2013” would give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency more tools to identify and regulate potentially unsafe chemicals.

“Mainers deserve to know that the products they are buying are safe for themselves and their families,” King said in a statement. “For far too long, they’ve been exposed to harmful substances in basic household items like baby bottles and dishware. The Safe Chemicals Act will make responsible changes to current law to provide the EPA with the tools to better ensure that consumer products are safe.”

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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