OVERNIGHT REGULATION: House weighs chemical reform

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington and we're happy to see lawmakers getting back to business after a two-week recess. We missed them, really we did.

Here's a look at what's happening and what's to come:



The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy will meet tomorrow to discuss the latest proposal to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, which is supposed to govern the nation's most toxic chemicals.

Of the two bill in the Senate, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, introduced by Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Democrats introduce bill to ban chlorpyrifos, other pesticides to protect farmworkers GOP lawmaker says he will oppose any attempts to delay election MORE (D-N.M.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom line Bottom line The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (R-La.) is the one with bipartisan support.


The House measure, the TSCA Modernization Act, introduced by Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), though, differs from it in three critical ways.

(1) State rules: Opponents have criticized the Udall-Vitter bill for stripping away states' abilities to issue their own protections. The Senate proposal preempts states from issuing their own safety laws for any chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency begins to assess, a process they argue could take years.

The House bill, however, would only preempt states from enacting their own laws after EPA has completed an assessment of a chemical and begun the rulemaking process.

(2) Priorities: Under the Udall-Vitter bill, EPA has to first identify a chemical as a high priority before it can begin an assessment, but it can also classify a chemical as a low priority.

Andy Igrejas, national campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said the low priority designation allows EPA to skip over chemicals it thinks are likely to meet safety standards.

"That loophole of low priority designation doesn't exist in the House bill and that's a major benefit," he said.

Igrejas is expected to testify at tomorrow's hearing.

(3) Cost: The Udall-Vitter bill would force EPA to base chemical safety decisions solely on considerations of risk to public health and the environment, fixing the question of whether the cost of a regulation should be considered.

But in the House bill's wording, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said there's a chance cost could still trump public health.

"While one section seems to exclude consideration of costs and benefits and eliminates a requirement to select the least burdensome option, another section says EPA must consider the economic consequences of chemical regulations and impose requirements that are cost-effective," Scott Faber, EWG vice president of government affairs, said in a press release.

Tomorrow's hearing begins at 10:15 a.m. and advocates on both sides of the debate will be watching closely.



The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on reducing unnecessary duplication in federal programs. http://1.usa.gov/1zaofuH

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on EPA's proposed rule for existing power plants and ratepayer protection act. http://1.usa.gov/1DonKlX

The House Judiciary Committee will have a full hearing on the oversight of U.S. immigration and customs enforcement. http://1.usa.gov/1DBBGcD

The House Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials will hold a hearing to discuss oversight of the ongoing rail, pipeline and HAZMAT rulemakings. http://1.usa.gov/1HhgxUb

The House Ways and Means' Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss the individual and employer mandates in the president's healthcare law. http://1.usa.gov/1DbOZyY

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold a hearing to discuss the EPA's water rule and the potential impact on states, water and power users, and landowners. http://1.usa.gov/1DBCbmL

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a meeting to discuss potential revisions to regulations that prohibit the use of lead pipes, solder and flux in drinking water pipes. http://bit.ly/1O7cqfJ



The Obama administration will publish 206 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions on Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what to look for:

Mailboxes: The Postal Service is considering a rule that would change the standards for how curbside mailboxes are designed.

The Postal Service said the current standard, which took effect in February 2001, are in several respects no longer ideal for the operational requirements of the Postal Service. The proposed design and performance requirements will apply to new versions of both locking and non-locking curbside mailboxes.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1aX6Tw9

Fisher:  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delaying its decision to list the West Coast population of fisher as a threatened species.

A fisher is a forest-dwelling mammal about the size of a house-cat that has a long body, short legs and a bushy tail. FWS said it's extending the deadline for its final determination by 6 months, reopening the public comment period on the proposed rule for an additional 30 days. http://bit.ly/1aJWpzm



LGBT: House Democrats introduced a resolution Monday urging bolstered anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people following last month's passage in Indiana of a controversial religious-freedom law. http://bit.ly/1aJWsvc

Lawsuit: Major telecommunications companies are jumping to challenge new federal Internet service regulations in court, mere hours after the legal window opened on Monday morning. http://bit.ly/1CHHegr

Pregnant women: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has denied a request from Democrats to create a special open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act for women when they find out they are pregnant. http://bit.ly/1ykomc1

Offshore drillers: Federal regulators are proposing a regulation to improve a key piece of offshore drilling equipment, five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster raised questions about safety. http://bit.ly/1anqLHr

Internet rules: Thirteen Republicans joined Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) in support of a resolution that would block new Internet rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission. http://bit.ly/1aKsGqe

Super-PACs: The political action committees are changing the nature of presidential campaigns, NPR reports.http://n.pr/1DBGQVU

Apple: A Miami-based artist is suing Apple Inc. and a design firm for alleged copyright infringement and unfair competition, AP reports. http://bit.ly/1FGB9bE

Food stamps: States are tightening the conditions under which people can receive food stamps, The New York Times reports. http://nyti.ms/1yithdt



32: The number if states where it is legal to fire someone because they are gay or transgender.

33: The number of states where it is legal to turn away a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person from a business, including restaurants and movie theaters.

14: The number of states that have laws to protect LGBT students from discrimination in schools.



"When intolerance occurs anywhere everyone has an obligation to take a stand and Congress doesn't get a waiver on that," Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, during a press call Monday.


We’ll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and@wheelerlydia.

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