Manchin, Capito Back Law to Regulate Chemicals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama is expected to sign a rare piece of legislation, a bill which received strong bi-partisan support on Capitol Hill.  The Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act enjoyed Republican and Democrat backing in both the U.S. Senate and House.   The measure aims to ensure safety of chemicals in America by upgrading an outdated chemical registry program.

“We must ensure that the chemicals we encounter in our everyday lives are safe and properly managed and I’m pleased that the Senate has passed this much needed legislation to modernize our severely outdated chemical regulatory system,” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said. “Updating chemical safety laws is necessary to protect families and communities, and making sure we can properly manage toxic chemicals and prepare for the unlikely event of a chemical accident.”

The 2014 chemical spill at Freedom Industries into the Elk River was on Manchin’s mind and that of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito who also supported the measure.

“I was able to get into this bill the ability to prioritize if there’s a chemical in close proximity of a water source,” said Capito. “Then we prioritize that and find out what it is and how we deal with it.”

When the chemical MCHM was spilled into the river and ultimately made its way into the West Virginia American Water Company Treatment plant, very little was known about the toxicity of the material and what impact it had on humans or pets.  More than 300,000 residents in all or part of nine counties were left with inadequate knowledge about what had come into their pipes.

“After the 2014 Elk River chemical spill, I vowed to do everything in my power to ensure a similar accident would never occur again,” Manchin said. “This bill is a remarkable step in the right direction and a testament to the incredible work the Senate can do when we commit to finding bipartisan, commonsense solutions.”

The bill recreates the framework of legislation on the books since 1976 which had become cumbersome, outdated, and inefficient.   The new law would define for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the direction for testing, categorizing, and regulation of all chemicals, thousands which are used in our everyday lives.

Capito said it’s the role the EPA is supposed to play.

“I’ve been fighting the EPA tooth and nail with the regulatory overreach they have,” said Capito. “This is basically us in Congress telling EPA one of your primary responsibilities is to regulate the water. This is a result of working together rather than just an agency going too far and overextending their authority.”

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

By:  Chris Lawrence
Source: Metro News