Energy & Environment

Sanders pans chemical safety reform deal

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Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders 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.

{mosads}Sanders, who is behind Hillary Clinton 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 Boxer (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (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.

Tags 2016 presidential election Barbara Boxer Bernie Sanders Ed Markey Hillary Clinton Jeff Merkley Toxic Substances Control Act

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