Lawmaker was key Senate leader in informal conference that resulted in final legislative package

Washington (June 22, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) was joined today at the White House by Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts President Edward A. Kelly and Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg to celebrate the signing of historic chemical safety reform legislation into law. The “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act”, a reauthorization of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was signed today by President Obama, the first major environmental law to be passed by Congress in a generation.


As top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee of jurisdiction, Senator Markey played a key and leading role in negotiating this modernization of TSCA, and was the architect of many of the most significant negotiated improvements to the legislation as it moved through an informal conference committee. The new law has been described by the Obama administration as “a clear improvement over the current TSCA and represents a historic advancement for both chemical safety and environmental law”. It includes protections negotiated by Senator Markey that ensure that Massachusetts can continue to play a leading role in the country’s chemical safety efforts.


“Massachusetts has long led the nation in protecting our families from toxic chemicals,” said Senator Markey, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Superfund, Waste Management and Government Oversight subcommittee. “As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, we’ve had to contend with the consequences of corporate chemical pollution for generations, and this new legislation will help ensure a new century of health and safety for our children, our first responders and our environment.


“I am particularly pleased that efforts I helped lead resulted in the assurance that Massachusetts’s pending flame retardant law will not be subjected to pause preemption, and that there is a mechanism in the bill to ensure that states’ ongoing work on all chemicals can continue while EPA is studying those chemicals. I thank the Professional Fire Firefighters of Massachusetts and Attorney General Maura Healey and her staff for their persistence and leadership during these negotiations and for their support of this important new law.”


Specifically, the new law protects Massachusetts’s chemical safety work by:

  • Grandfathering past and future chemical safety regulations under Massachusetts’ Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) from preemption. As one of two broad, older toxics laws that received special protection in the law, also including California’s Prop 65 labeling law, this means that TURA authority can continue to be used to require Massachusetts-based companies to measure and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals they use.
  • Ensuring that Massachusetts’ pending law to ban the use of toxic flame retardants in children’s products and upholstered furniture is protected from ‘pause’ preemption, which is a 2.5-3 year period during which states can’t impose new chemical safety measures while EPA studies the chemical.