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Chemical reform bill was not ready

More negotiations needed to ensure progress for public health

Boxer counter offer released today

Today, press reported that a new “deal” on the Chemical Safety Improvement Act was scuttled at the last minute, prompting Senator Vitter to state he would start over with the original version of the bill (S.1009) next year.

Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families –  a coalition of 450 health and environment groups, unions and businesses-  issued the following statement:

“Chemical reform is a vital issue for public health that affects millions of American families. It is important that Congress gets it right.

“Over the last year the public health and environmental community have provided a detailed and substantive critique of the reform bills in both the House and Senate. To their credit, Senators Udall and Vitter responded to much of this critique with a new draft that circulated among key stakeholders and in Congress in recent days.

“The bottom line, however, is that the legislation was not ready. There was not yet a deal to be scuttled. Major deficiencies remained in the draft including the small number of chemicals EPA would be likely to review, a lack of new resources for the agency, and other gaps that affect whether the legislation would make a difference for real-world scenarios like the West Virginia chemical spill earlier this year. Most importantly, the legislation would continue to severely restrict the authority of states to protect their citizens from toxic chemicals, even when the EPA has declined to review a chemical or when action on the chemical is years away.

“Since many states have stepped forward to address chemical threats in important ways during the years of federal dysfunction, these restrictions on state authority – when combined with the other deficiencies in the draft – go backwards from the status quo.

“The counter offer that Senator Boxer, the Senate EPW Committee Chair, has circulated today addresses deficiencies in the Udall/Vitter draft and presents a clear improvement for public health and safety over the status quo.

“We encourage Senators to grapple with the substance and continue negotiations toward what could be a landmark agreement if it is done right.”