Quantcast

Major Flaws Exposed in Senate's Vitter-Udall Chemical Bill

Health + Wellness

Opponents of the Senate’s Vitter-Udall chemical legislation introduced last week point to numerous flaws in the bill. Perhaps the most contentiously debated part is something called “preemption” which would slow or stop states from acting to control harmful chemicals. Just a few days after introduction of the bill, two state attorneys general are already speaking out.

The Vitter bill “strays far from a bill that can adequately protect our citizens from the potential risks that may be posed by certain toxic chemicals in commerce,” says Massachusetts Attorneys General Maura Healey.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Preemption is chemical lobby priority numero uno because only the states in recent years have managed to make headway in controlling some of the worst toxic chemicals. It’s why the chemical lobby rushed to endorse the bill.

According to our friends at SAFER States, more than 150 state policies have been enacted to protect citizens from harmful chemicals. States have made critical progress to:

  • define hazardous chemicals of greatest concern to vulnerable populations
  • disclose the use of these chemicals in consumer products
  • ban the worst-of-the-worst; and
  • move the marketplace and the nation towards safer alternatives.

State officials speak out

So it’s not surprising that state attorneys general are coming forward to warn that the bill will limit the ability of states to take action.

On March 5, the California attorney general’s general counsel was the first to weigh in with a detailed critique. Among his concerns is a “regulatory void” that would be created under the bill because it stops state action once the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency begins a slow motion process of up to seven years to control a dangerous chemical. One has to imagine somewhere, a room of chemical lobbyists has got champagne on ice in anticipation of a seven year pass to do what they will.

States, who also do most of the toxics enforcement in this country, would be barred from passing laws identical to rules at the federal level. Our national director, Andy Igrejas, called that provision “a blatant attempt to reduce enforcement.”

This week, the Massachusetts attorneys general weighed in too, saying the Vitter bill “strays far from a bill that can adequately protect our citizens from the potential risks that may be posed  by certain toxic chemicals in commerce.”  The AG, Maura Healey, went on to say that while she supports federal chemical policy reform, the effort “cannot compromise the ability of states like Massachusetts to use our agencies’ expertise and experience to address the potential public health risks posed by some chemicals.”

I’m just scratching the surface of the state rollbacks. Our friends at the Environmental Health Strategy Center have put together a detailed chart. For more on the weaknesses of the bill, read our recent blog packed with detail.

You can also watch this Rachel Maddow Show segment, Chemical Lobbyist Exposed as Author of New Bill to Regulate Industry, for more information on this issue:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

6 Common Food Additives Used in the U.S. That Are Banned in Other Countries

Alarming Report Links Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Autism, ADHD, lower IQ and Obesity

Must-See TEDxManhattan Video Features Bold Leaders ‘Changing the Way We Eat’

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less