Skip to main content

Is Congress even working on toxic policy reform?

With the exception of education policy, there’s probably no other issue where states’ rights are paramount than when it comes to the health of its residents. Congress is currently considering a bill that would have devastating consequences to public health in Washington state if they don’t make major changes to the proposal. The federal Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA), currently being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is an attempt to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. The 1976 act is in dire need of updating – something both parties agree on.

Unfortunately, the CICA not only falls well short of improving the current law, it will:

  • put communities at greater risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • impose weak chemical testing standards, create faulty cost and benefit methods
  • prohibit states from adopting their own toxic chemical protections.

With no strong federal standards in place, states have been exercising their authority to impose their own regulations to keep residents safe from toxic chemicals.

Here in Washington, I led the bipartisan effort to ban toxic PBDE flame retardants in furniture, electronics, and mattresses. More recently, the House has tried to pass similar bans on the next generation of toxic flame retardants, though the state Senate has refused to consider the matter. The current CICA would impose broad state preemptions, meaning states would be prohibited from enacting their own toxic chemical protections. This is bad public policy.

Representative Ross Hunter

Both the Seattle Times and the Spokesman Review have published editorials highlighting the importance of preserving states’ rights. It’s been about 40 years since TSCA was adopted and it could be another 40 years before this issue is addressed again. Now is the time to address this critical issue and we can’t afford to get it wrong.

I wrote a letter to Congresswoman McMorris Rogers. She is Washington state’s only representative on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and she needs to hear from you on this important issue.

If you want Congress to pass meaningful toxics legislation that will keep kids and communities safe, you can contact Congresswoman McMorris Rogers by calling 202-225-2006.

You don’t have to be in Washington to tell your representative to do the right thing and say “No” to CICA. Take action here, today.

This originally appeared on Representative Ross Hunter’s blog here.