States fear losing power to regulate chemicals

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm •  Published: April 29, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation to create national standards for regulating chemicals has generated opposition from some states, who fear the bill would curtail their authority to take action against chemicals they deem harmful.

The GOP-authored draft legislation, which aims to reform regulation of chemicals, would pre-empt some state and local regulations.

At a House hearing Tuesday, Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Moore, a Democrat, said the legislation would impose a "one-size-fits-all approach to toxic chemicals regulation."

"To strip states' residents of protections enacted by their elected officials would be a serious breach of state sovereignty and would leave everyone more susceptible to increased harm from toxic chemicals," said Moore, speaking on behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Earlier this month, attorneys general from 13 states, led by New York's Eric T. Schneiderman, made a similar argument in a letter to leaders of the House Energy and Commerce environment and economy subcommittee, which held the hearing.

Subcommittee chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., who wrote the bill, argued it's necessary to create a standard where chemicals are regulated under one set of rules, rather than a "patchwork" of different state regulations. A committee fact sheet calls the measure "a commerce bill, not just a chemical safety bill. The U.S. economy is heavily reliant on chemicals, and a strong regulatory system is needed to encourage growth and facilitate commerce across several sectors of the economy."

The legislation would reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates more than 80,000 chemicals that have been introduced on the market, used in everything from cell phones to plastic drinking-water bottles. Lawmakers from both sides agree the law needs revision.

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