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Over 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: report

Over 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: report
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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.

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"While no president has ever done as much to weaken safeguards for toxic chemicals as Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US 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 LewisPaul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans How America’s urban-rural divide is changing the Democratic Party Dem hopes for House majority run through Minnesota suburbs MORE (R-Minn.), Rep. Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: report Worst-case scenario for House GOP is 70-seat wipeout McCarthy joins push asking Trump for more wildfire aid in California MORE (R-Calif.) and Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHouse Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Senate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities 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 RohrabacherMidterms in 2018 become most expensive in history Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters 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.