Over 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: report

Over 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: report
© Getty Images

More than 100 House lawmakers consistently voted for legislation to weaken safeguards against toxic chemicals, according to a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund released Tuesday.

The political arm of the environmental group found in its first scorecard of the voting patterns of lawmakers on chemical policy measures that a number of largely Republican lawmakers voted for measures that aim to weaken chemical standards or place obstacles in front of new chemical protections.

Looking at 17 separate bills and amendments voted on during the 114th and 115th Congresses, the report found that over 100 lawmakers voted for these measures at every chance they got. Additionally, the analysis found that 140 House members voted against toxic chemical safeguards in every of the measured instances. In contrast, 149 members voted consistently for chemical safety protections.

ADVERTISEMENT

"While no president has ever done as much to weaken safeguards for toxic chemicals as Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE, too many members of Congress have collaborated with the Trump administration or cast votes in favor of policies that reversed or delayed chemical bans, gutted chemical safety rules, rejected sound science, weakened worker and consumer protections, and denied justice to asbestos victims," the report found.

Legislators who EWG say consistently championed legislation that would weaken chemical safeguards include Rep. Jason LewisJason Mark LewisInvestigation concludes marijuana, medication impaired driver involved in GOP train crash The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities MORE (R-Minn.), Rep. Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaRep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill MORE (R-Calif.) and Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger Hillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger House Intel to take first major deep dive into threat of 'deepfakes' MORE (R-Texas). All three politicians were among a group that introduced their own bills that in some fashion could make it easier for chemicals to pass regulatory hurdles.

According to EWG Action Fund, Lewis introduced a bill that could require agencies to submit chemical safety plans for congressional review, which the group says could delay or block the implementation of the safeguards.

A spokeswoman for Lewis's office pushed back against the characterization, saying the bill would only affect guidance documents believed to lead to an annual effect of at least $100 million, and that there is "no reason to believe" that chemical safety measures would be one of them.

"It’s no surprise that the EWG, which has a long history of supporting candidates and controversial causes backed by more extreme environmental groups, think that more transparency and taxpayer accountability are negatives," said Lewis in a statement to The Hill.

"EWG has no interest in the open process my legislation provides, they are clearly more interested in putting workers at Pine Bend out of work.”

EWG Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the nonprofit environmental group that focuses on raising money and legislative awareness on a trove of environmental and chemical issues.

Their report also highlighted Republican lawmakers who voted for legislation that would increase chemical standards, including Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (R-Calif.) who voted against the farm bill, which included a number of amendments making it easier for pesticides to pass inspection, the group said.

Concerns about chemical safety standards have grown under the Trump administration as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other departments move to implement a number of new policies critics say weaken environmental protections.

The EPA this summer has been criticized over its new plans to regulate asbestos. Asbestos is largely not banned on the federal level, but a 2016 law gave the EPA authority to prohibit the carcinogen.

The EPA’s proposal, released in June, was criticized as opening the door to widespread use of asbestos. EPA officials ardently denied the accusations, saying the proposed regulations would effectively ban the substance.

Timothy Cama contributed to this report.

This story was updated 10:30 a.m.