Senate panel passes chemical safety bill

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A Senate panel passed a bill aimed at preventing chemical spills Thursday, which a group of Senate Democrats proposed in response to the West Virginia leak earlier this year.

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After working across party lines, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act.

Co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), the bill affords states additional oversight power of chemical facilities like the Freedom Industries facility along Elk River, which spilled a coal-cleaning contaminant in January.

The spill left 300,000 residents without clean water for several days.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member on the committee, supported the bill after working with Boxer to address Republicans' concerns.