Presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks Progressives seething over Biden's migrant policies MORE slammed the compromise chemical safety bill unveiled Friday, saying it does too much to prevent states from regulating dangerous substances.
The Vermont senator's position stands in contrast to a wide range of his colleagues in the upper chamber, even some of the most liberal, who supported the bill to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.
Sanders, who is behind Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE in the race to be Democratic Party’s nominee, said he agrees with his colleagues that the TSCA is ineffective and needs updating.
“While this legislation allows Vermont to continue enforcing existing state regulations to keep adults and children safe from toxic chemicals such as [perfluorooctanoic acid], it makes it more difficult for states to set new, stricter standards. That makes no sense,” he said in a statement shortly after the compromise legislation was unveiled.
“Federal chemical regulations should be a floor, not a ceiling,” Sanders said. “States should not be stopped from going above and beyond minimum federal safety standards.”
The bill, which still must go through the House and Senate and get President Obama’s signature, gives the Environmental Protection Agency new authority to review and regulate thousands of chemicals, but it also greatly limits states’ ability to put in place their own chemical rules.
The preemption of state authority was a key sticking point for Democrats in negotiating toward the legislation. The Democrats successfully changed the bill enough so that Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFormer California senator prods Feinstein to consider retirement Trump decries 'defund the police' after Boxer attacked Former Sen. Barbara Boxer attacked in California MORE (D-Calif.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Six Democrats blast Energy Department's uranium reserve pitch MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Senate Finance chair backs budget action on fossil fuel subsidies Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill Democrats revive filibuster fight over voting rights bill MORE (D-Ore.) and other liberals joined in to support it.
Sanders’s opinion aligns with that of the top environmental regulator in Vermont and in five other states, who pushed lawmakers Thursday night to give states more authority.
Sanders sits on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, and joined four of his colleagues last April in voted against a previous version of the chemical bill.