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Chemical Workers Contradict Industry on Job Impacts of Safe Chemicals Act

New Economic Analysis Shows Federal Chemical Policy Reform Would Promote Innovation and Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of nearly 300 environmental health groups, is urging Congress to take a close look at a new study released today which demonstrates that federal chemical policy reform can support job creation while protecting public health and the environment. The study produced by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and commissioned by the BlueGreen Alliance, counters the chemical industry’s primary argument against updating the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Alliance includes both the United Steelworkers and the United Food and Commercial Workers, which together represent the overwhelming majority of organized labor in chemical manufacturing.

“It’s enormously significant that the leading unions of chemical workers think chemical policy reform is needed to save American manufacturing jobs,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. “Their analysis directly contradicts claims by the chemical industry.”

Today’s report — The Economic Benefits of a Green Chemical Industry in the United States: Renewing Manufacturing Jobs While Protecting Health and the Environment — demonstrates that the U.S. chemical industry shed 300,000 jobs since 1992, despite production increasing by 4 percent per year. Under the current scenario, the industry stands to lose approximately 230,000 jobs in the next 20 years. Under new regulations supporting sustainable production, the U.S. chemical industry will become more competitive by: lowering costs for the industry and downstream users, ensuring access to important global markets, reducing waste by using inputs more efficiently, curtailing future cost pressures from non-renewable fossil-fuel inputs, meeting demands from consumers for safer products, protecting shareholder value, and encouraging research and development of innovative products.

Just last month Senators Frank Lautenberg and four others introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” to curtail dangerous chemicals used in everyday products with known links to cancer, learning disabilities, infertility and more. Advocates predict action in this Congress despite the partisan divide. They point to the strong bipartisan support for chemical safety legislation at the state level, and public opinion research consistently showing overwhelming bipartisan support for reform.

“The Safe Chemicals Act will not only help curb the dramatic rise of chemical-related diseases in this country, but will also positively impact our nation’s economy,” said Igrejas. “We can no longer afford to keep this outdated law in place.”

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 would:

  • Require EPA to restrict chemicals already known to present serious health hazards to which Americans are widely exposed;
  • Require basic health and safety information for all chemicals as a condition for entering or remaining on the market;
  • Reduce the burden of toxic chemical exposure on people of color, low-income, and indigenous communities;
  • Upgrade scientific methods for testing and evaluating chemicals to reflect best practices called for by the National Academy of Sciences; and
  • Provide EPA with the tools and resources needed to identify and address chemicals posing health and environmental concerns.