Senate Dems push bill to prevent chemical spills

A group of Senate Democrats will push legislation aimed at preventing chemical spills in the wake of West Virginia's leak that left 300,000 residents without clean water for several days.

The state's senators Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Trump meets with Dem senator amid Cabinet speculation Overnight Energy: Walden wins Energy gavel | Trump looks at Dems to head Energy, Interior MORE (D) and Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D), along with Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrucking riders ‘in the mix’ for short-term spending bill Lawmakers praise defense bill's National Guard bonus fix Schumer’s elevation to leader spells trouble for Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) announced their plan to introduce the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act when Congress returns from recess later this month.

The legislation bulks up states' powers on oversight of chemical facilities like the Freedom Industries' facility along Elk River, according to a statement from Manchin's office.

"The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd," Rockefeller said in a statement.

"I’m encouraged we are taking these steps to bring some accountability to industry that will help protect West Virginia families and our state’s economy," he added.

Key elements of the bill include mandating regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities and requiring the industry to craft state-approved emergency response plans.

It also pushes for drinking water systems to have the tools and information necessary to respond to emergencies.

"Today, nearly 150,000 West Virginians still cannot use their tap water and many more are concerned about the long-term effects of this chemical spill," Manchin said. "We can work to improve the safety of Americans by ensuring that chemicals are properly managed, while also balancing the positive impact the chemical industry has made to our country."