Blue-leaning states blast chemical safety bill

Blue-leaning states blast chemical safety bill

Environmental officials in six liberal states are warning that Congress is going too far in blocking states’ rights to regulate chemicals.

Top regulators in Washington state, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont said the most recent draft they’ve seen of legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act would hobble their ability to protect their citizens from unsafe chemicals.

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“To be clear, there are good elements in the legislation,” they said in a statement late Thursday. “However, state authorities are excessively and unnecessarily preempted, in exchange for the promise of federal protection that is too meager.”

A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers is putting the finishing touches on a chemical reform bill compromise between the chambers.

In return for giving the Environmental Protection Agency sweeping new authority and resources to test and regulate chemicals, the legislation would greatly limit states’ ability to regulate them in an attempt to end what industry sees as a “patchwork” of laws.

For decades, states have taken the lead in regulating chemicals, and the new bill would retain some limited authority for states to act. But the six state leaders in Thursday’s statement said they need more power.

“We urge those working on the bill to improve the provisions dealing with state preemption. This could include making waivers more accessible to states, preserving state abilities to ban chemicals (as currently exists under TSCA), and removing or reforming the proposed regulatory ‘pause’ that blocks a state from regulating a chemical that the EPA is only examining,” they said.

State preemption was the main reason that major Democrats did not sign onto the legislation until recently, including Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president MORE (D-Calif.). Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) still do not support the bill due largely to the preemption provision.