Monday, June 27, 2016

U.S. CONGRESS & OBAMA - A Rare Agreement

"Congress, Obama find accord on regulation of household chemicals" PBS NewsHour 6/22/2016

CAUTION:  The new regulations could work IF Congress actually funds the EPA with enough to hire investigators and run the program.  Underfunded programs do NOT work.


SUMMARY:  President Obama reached a rare agreement with Congress on a new law to regulate toxic household chemicals.  The legislation, signed Wednesday, will give the EPA the authority to vet and ban tens of thousands of substances potentially harmful to humans, including chemicals in detergents, cleaners and furniture.  Gwen Ifill learns more from political director Lisa Desjardins.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The President and Congress have reached rare agreement on a new law that will regulate everyday toxic chemicals.  The President signed it today, setting in motion the biggest changes in four decades.

The Environmental Protection Agency now has new authority to review, and eventually restrict or ban, tens of thousands of chemicals that could be carcinogenic or otherwise harm human health, among them; substances found in household detergents and cleansers, flame retardants and furniture.

But it may take a while.

Lisa Desjardins joins us to fill in the picture.

Lisa, why is this significant?

LISA DESJARDINS (NewsHour):  This is incredibly significant.

We’re talking about a vast universe of things that we touch in our everyday lives.  Some estimate that one out of every three sort of processed products that we buy, not food, but everything else, could have toxic chemicals in it.

And what happened, Gwen, was the law passed 40 years ago was essentially toothless.  So the EPA wasn’t even able to regulate forcefully something like asbestos, which we know from scientific evidence is lethal and may — causes a lethal form of cancer, but yet it’s not banned because the law previously wasn’t strong enough.

GWEN IFILL:  You and I both have covered Washington for a while.  We know how hard it is to get bipartisan agreement on anything.  Why this, why now?



LISA DESJARDINS:  Nothing is getting done in Washington.  A sweeping bill over an $800 billion industry?  Well, that’s the answer.  The industry got on board.

The chemical industry felt this was in their interest because, up until now, they have self-regulated and states have regulated, Gwen.  So the chemical industry has dealt with 50 different sets of laws across this country.  They found that it was in their interest at this time to have a national law, have the EPA take this over.

So what we’re going to have now from this law is the EPA having dominance, being able to override states, with some exceptions, in general when it comes to chemical safety.

No comments: