Our nation’s chemical sector is an $812 billion industry that directly provides jobs for nearly 800,000 people and supports jobs for seven million people in related fields. South Carolina has been home to a manufacturing revolution over the past decade and the revolution relies heavily on the chemical industry. With 96 percent of all manufactured goods using raw materials and products created by the chemical industry, its importance for our state’s manufacturers is clear. That’s why I supported the Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which the Senate passed and the President signed into law this summer. This legislation gives the manufacturing industry needed clarity regarding chemical regulations by updating the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which regulates and reviews all chemicals used in the United States, such as in the aerospace, automotive, equipment manufacturers, paper products, and travel goods industries. Under a Republican majority, it also marks the first major environmental reforms passed by Congress in two decades.
Why is this good for South Carolina manufacturing? The first reason is that it safeguards trading between states and the nation’s economy by creating one standard regulation system regarding chemicals. Previously, states created their own rules in regards to chemicals, and this resulted in a confusing system that was difficult to follow and comply with. Through establishing one standard that all states must follow, we can protect small businesses by limiting the bureaucracy that so often hampers productivity. As a former small business owner myself, I understand the affects that red tape can have not just on the bottom line, but on the ability to grow, hire new workers, and increase the number on the front of your employees’ paychecks.
The bill also prevents federal overreach and promotes balance between state and federal regulation in several ways. For instance, it allows state regulations on chemicals enacted prior to August 1, 2015 to be grandfathered into the system. Additionally, the bill allows states to petition for different regulations than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through a waiver process during the safety assessment and after a final rule ensuring that the states have a voice when it comes to determining regulations.
The Chemical Safety Act also works to ensure that confidential information particular to a company is kept private, while also being transparent and increasing the availability of chemical information and the regulatory system. For consumers, the transparency measures in the new law will help give the public peace of mind when they use everyday products.
The Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is a compromise, which resulted from decades of Congressional debates and discussion to find a more workable system for the chemical industry. Not surprisingly, it has support from government officials, manufacturers, environmentalists, and multiple other industries. In order to provide opportunity for all, we must ensure that we are creating an economic environment conducive to growth. This important legislation was a big step in that direction for manufacturers across South Carolina and the nation. I will continue working to ensure that burdensome regulations are not suffocating our nation’s ability to create, innovate and grow.