Congress approves bill updating chemical safety oversight

WASHINGTON The Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would revamp federal chemical safety protections for the first time in decades, sending it to President Barack Obama for his expected signing into law.

The Senate approved the measure that was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives on May 25.

The bill would update the Toxic Substances Control Act amid complaints that its 40-year-old provisions hobble the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from effectively regulating chemicals, including those ranging from asbestos and flame retardants to everyday household products.

“No one disputes that this bill transfers power from the states to the federal government,” Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky complained during debate of the bill.

He said it would add hundreds of new regulations that will burden the U.S. chemical industry and hurt jobs.

The EPA, under the bill, would have to consider the impact of a chemical on human health and the environment, as well as the chemical’s benefits and the economic impact of regulation.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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