This entry continues the previous one, Who pays the piper calls the tune
Not surprisingly, the bill Sens. Udall and Vitter presented yesterday to the senate committee on the environment doesn’t set a floor for minimum regulation by the states, but it does block them from raising the standards as they do now. Since the Environmental Protection Agency provides weak or no protection to the public from the approximately 1,000 chemicals it considers potentially hazardous, a majority of the states have enacted their own regulations. If the Udall-Vitter bill passes, they will lose their ability to do so.
The Nation reports that
The bill would bar states from regulating a chemical once the EPA designates it as “high priority” for assessment, a process that can take up to seven years. It requires the EPA to start reviewing a minimum of 25 chemicals within five years, but at that rate, it could be centuries before the agency got through the 1,000 chemicals is says need assessment.
Consumer advocates like the Environmental Working Group believe the new bill not only doesn’t adequately protect the public, it degrades the current protection:
[It] fail[s] to ensure that chemicals are safe, fail[s] to set meaningful deadlines for safety reviews, fail[s] to provide EPA with adequate resources and [denies] states the ability to protect public health and the environment.
Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the former chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee told MSNBC,
Call me old-fashioned, but the bill to protect the public from harmful chemicals should not be written by chemical industry lobbyists.
Did Boxer know how right she was when she said that?
Udall’s office had circulated a draft of the proposed bill before yesterday’s committee hearing. It was in MS Word format. The San Francisco Chronicle got hold of it and examined the properties of the file. It identified the Author as no other than the American Chemical Council.
Score another one for the plutocrats. Money rules now. It has made a mockery of American democracy, reducing it to a quaint relic of the past. Those who were elected by the people to represent them are instead constrained to dance to the tune of the mighty piper.