Sen Lautenberg, leader in chemical rules reform, dies at 89

03 June 2013 18:24  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Senator Frank Lautenberg (Democrat-New Jersey), 89 years old and the last World War II veteran serving in the Senate, died early on Monday, his office said, succumbing to complications from viral pneumonia.

Lautenberg, who had been ailing for several months, had announced in February that he would not seek a sixth six-year term in the Senate in next year’s mid-term elections.

His Senate office issued a statement saying that Lautenberg died at 04:02 hrs New Jersey time on Monday.

Lautenberg was a long-time leading advocate in Congress for stronger federal regulations on the control of chemicals in commerce.

In recent years, he repeatedly introduced his “Safe Chemicals Act” to replace the 37-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

His legislative reform of TSCA was widely criticised by those in the chemicals industry and other manufacturing interests who charged that it would constitute a harsh US version of the controversial EU chemicals control programme known as REACH.

His “Safe Chemicals Act” never gained any real traction in the Senate and was seen as a non-starter in the House.

But in the last year, Lautenberg played a central role in negotiations with chemical industry representatives, environmentalists and other stakeholders to craft a bipartisan TSCA modernisation bill that could get through both chambers of Congress.

On 22 May, just 12 days prior to his death, Lautenberg and Senator David Vitter (Republican-Louisiana) jointly introduced a compromise TSCA reform bill titled the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act” (CSIA), which was broadly welcomed by chemical sector leaders and others.

Lautenberg’s passing is not expected to have any impact on the bill’s future in Congress because it has solid bipartisan support. Seven other Democrats and seven Republican senators joined Lautenberg and Vitter in advancing the measure.

Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and a former congressional colleague of Lautenberg’s, said on Monday that the New Jersey Democrat was “a constant champion for his constituents and a committed advocate for children and the environment”.

Citing the newly introduced CSIA, Dooley said: “We are deeply grateful for his recent leadership to forge a bipartisan approach to chemical management reform, and it has been an honour to support his efforts.”

Larry Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), said that Lautenberg was “a formidable voice of the US Senate [who] leaves behind a remarkable record as a public servant”.

“We will remember Senator Lautenberg’s dedication and continued efforts to reform TSCA, especially the bipartisan agreement he recently reached with Senator Vitter and many of his fellow senators,” Sloan said.

“We are confident that one of his last pieces of legislation, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, will proceed and serve as a legacy to his passion for the issue,” Sloan added.

By: Joe Kamalick
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