Week ahead: House turns to chemical reform

House lawmakers will meet next week to discuss chemical reform legislation.

Two competing bills to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act have already been introduced in the Senate. But on Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hold a hearing to discuss the draft of a new bill sponsored by Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.).

The proposed legislation would create a new system for the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate and manage chemicals already on the market and set a 3-year deadline for risk evaluations of chemicals selected by the EPA. 

Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE (D-Calif.) and Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDems seek to chip away at Trump’s economic record Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk Lawmakers roll out bill to protect children from online data collection MORE (D-Mass.) are behind the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act, while Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDem senator presses EPA over reporter 'intimidation' Dems expand 2018 message to ‘draining the swamp’ Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus MORE (D-N.M.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterPlanned Parenthood targets judicial nominee over abortion comments Trump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? MORE (R-La.) are pushing a bill named after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

The fight has been heated at times, with Boxer and Markey accusing Udall and Vitter of letting industry draft their legislation. Boxer claims her bill is superior because it directs the EPA to regulate asbestos. Udall has said his bill does not single out one chemical because it gives the EPA the authority to regulate any of the 84,000 chemicals in commerce. 

Environmental groups that support the Boxer-Markey bill say they are still reviewing the legislation, but it appears to give states more authority to pass their own chemical laws than the Udall-Vitter bill, which preempts states from taking action on any chemical EPA deems a high priority and begins to review.

“The stripped-down framework of the House approach has some promise,” the advocacy group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said in a news release. “It compares favorably to the Senate bill on the timing of preemption and its lack of rollbacks to the federal program. At the same time, the fundamentals of reform, like the standard for EPA to act, have to be there and it’s not clear if they are.”

The Environmental Working Group, however, said the House bill falls short of what’s needed to ensure the chemicals in the products people use every day are safe.

“Simply put, this draft will not require that chemicals are safe before they’re used, won’t give EPA authority to quickly review and regulate the most dangerous chemicals, will not provide tough deadlines for regulating dangerous chemicals, and will not provide EPA with the necessary resources to get the job done,” EWG President and Co-founder Ken Cook said in a statement.

Elsewhere, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the Innovation Act, a bill authored by Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteRepublicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Immigration petition hits 204 as new Republican signs on GOP centrists threaten to use conservative’s weapon against them MORE (R-Va.) to address abusive patent litigation. Kevin Kramer, the vice president and deputy general counsel for intellectual property at Yahoo, is expected to testify.

On Wednesday, the EPA also has a big day in court, as the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia hears oral arguments in a challenge to the agency’s carbon limits on existing power plants.



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