Two measures aimed at reforming the nation's chemical safety laws were introduced in the U.S. Congress this week, one of them lauded by public health advocates as potentially transformative and the other denounced by the same groups as favoring the very industry it is meant to regulate.
The EPA estimates that roughly 1,000 chemicals need immediate health and safety review. Under the industry bill, that process would take hundreds of years. It would require only that EPA start reviews of 25 chemicals within five years and would allow the agency up to seven years to review each substance. There is no deadline for implementing restrictions, phase-outs or bans of even the most toxic chemicals, which in many cases have contaminated Americans' blood for decades.
Relax, Barbara Boxer has your back.
In an industry friendly measure, California Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced legislation that requires the EPA to begin to evaluating 75 chemicals for health and safety within the next five years.
According to Earth Justice there are over 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States that have not been adequately tested for safety, and 28,000 of them are industry secrets whose formulations are completely secret. The EPA estimates that about a thousand chemicals need immediate health and safety reviews.
That is a long time to wait to begin evaluations of the other 925 chemicals that “need immediate health and safety reviews”. It certainly does not match my employer’s expectations when he says “immediate”. “No worries Boss, I’ll have it on your desk in a decade”.
In the next seven years, 30,000,000 children will be born in the United States. 1,000,000 will have diagnosed birth defects and 3,000,000 will be pre-term with increased health problems through adult hood. Adverse environmental conditions will also cause an undiagnosed number of children to be smart instead of brilliant, or pretty fast instead of lightning quick.
Additionally Barbara Boxer’s bill would allow adverse health impacts to be mitigated by financial ones. Her bill allows for doing an economic impact study of any chemical found to be dangerous that might have a $100,000,000 or more financial impact on the economy. Those are the ones that we have the greatest exposure to and will harm the greatest number of people. Hers would be a different approach than simply ending the production and sale of a harmful chemical and removing it from our homes and environment as quickly as possible.
The Boxer bill is just slightly less crappy. It is not true reform any more than Obamacare is Single Payer.
A good friend just died from asbestos related mesothelioma. He lasted a few months after his diagnosis. Corporations can't police themselves and they will do all they can and spend millions to shut up the people in charge of policing them. Conservatives put limits on Class Action lawsuits. Who can we turn to for protection if not the government?
A first-order goal of the GOP is to dismantle the EPA completely. They just de-fund it, and they will finish at least this task while in majority. With plenty of help from Dems like Manchin. The V-U bill just endorses the fact that the EPA is an empty store-front.