09/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Environmental Groups and Chemical Industry Agree on Regulating Toxics?

(Cross-posted from Healthy Child Healthy World)

I can't say I recall a time when environmental and public health advocates and the chemical industry have ever agreed, but on Tuesday they both came forward urging Congress to overhaul our outdated chemical regulatory system. I'm still skeptical about the chemical industry's amenability regarding the looming re-write of the Toxic Substances Control Act, but I guess at least they're not entirely opposed.

And, their reasoning for supporting new legislation is indeed logical from a business perspective. According to USA Today:

Members of the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers, agreed that the law has not kept pace with science. Giving the EPA more money and power to ban dangerous substances will help restore confidence, says the council's president and chief executive officer, Cal Dooley.

Dooley acknowledged that it's hard for businesses to comply with a patchwork of environmental laws. Making the federal law stronger will eliminate the need for states to pass their own environmental bills, he says. In rewriting the law, Dooley says, the EPA's primary consideration should be the health of children.

At the news conference, industry leaders acknowledged that they may have to change some of their business practices -- even without new legislation in the USA -- because of stringent new environmental laws in the European Union.

I'm still stunned that the industry rep would emphasize the need to protect children's health. But, I guess it's an encouraging reaction to how vocal parents have become about the unacceptable risks from chemicals in everyday products (combined with the clearly recognized purchasing power of moms who have been shifting their spending in droves.)

Have the historical competing interests finally converged? Can the economy and the environment be BFF? Personally, I think we're still in for a fight. It's one thing to say you support a re-write, it's another to agree on all the technicalities. I entirely expect to hear the age old argument that the requirements with real teeth will cost too much and "cripple industry." But, maybe I'm jaded and they have indeed turned over a new leaf. We'll find out next month when Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., introduces the Kid's Safe Chemicals Act rewriting the law.