Bipartisan bill to overhaul how chemicals are regulated faces uphill battle in Senate

Industrials Associated Press

A bipartisan bill to update regulation of harmful chemicals for the first time in nearly 40 years is drawing opposition from some Democrats and environmental groups. They say it's a step backward in protecting health and the environment.

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Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who are proposing the bill, call it a common-sense update to a 1976 law widely seen as ineffective. The bill would set safety standards for thousands of chemicals that are now unregulated and offer protections for those vulnerable to their effects, such as pregnant women, children and workers.

Chemical regulation took on new urgency after a crippling spill in West Virginia last year contaminated drinking water for 300,000 people. The chemical, crude MCHM, is unregulated under current law.