States have been where most of the action to protect people from toxic chemicals has happened in recent years. So the the Udall-Vitter bill is rightly drawing fire for limiting the ability of states to act in several ways.
In a New York Times editorial this week, the editorial board echoes Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ own reservations about the proposed Udall-Vitter chemical bill. NYT zeroes in on the “regulatory void” Udall-Vitter creates. The void refers to blocking states from acting once EPA begins a slow motion process of considering a chemical for regulation. Here’s what NYT says:
[Udall-Vitter] has flaws that ought to be corrected. Going forward, it would weaken the ability of states to regulate chemicals under state law. Once the E.P.A. designates a chemical as a “high priority” for assessment of dangers, the bill would block states from taking action even though E.P.A. is years away from actually doing anything about it. That is an invitation for manufacturers to try to stave off regulation indefinitely.
Six state attorneys general echoed that sentiment in a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week. The AGs say:
…a void would be created where states would be prevented from acting to protect their citizens and the environment from those chemicals even though federal restrictions may not be in place for many years.
As our director Andy Igrejas said in his own recent post, the new gap in time presents what the California Attorney General has called a “regulatory void” where the public is protected by no one. Furthermore, with state action frozen, the affected chemical company or trade association will have every incentive to obstruct the EPA review with all the tools at their disposal.
Does this sound like real reform that protects public health? To be kind, the answer is not yet.