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Justice Served: Attorney General Lawyer-Speak on Toxics

If someone were threatening to take away your rights, you’d talk to a lawyer. But what if someone were threatening to take away a right from your entire state? That’s when you call on the Attorney General.

That’s just what’s happening with the Udall-Vitter S697 bill now before the U.S. Senate. The bill threatens the right of state governments to protect people from toxic chemicals.

Listen to your lawyer. Or, more specifically: listen to the Attorneys General of California, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. All of them spoke up this week to defend their states—and public health—from a bad proposal. All asked the U.S. Senate to ensure that states are allowed to continue their good work to protect people, even as we reform our nation’s system for regulating toxic chemicals.

Here are a few highlights. And, because it’s lawyer-speak, a rough translation:

California: “While our office fully supports the goal of a more robust federal regulatory program, we do not believe this should be accomplished through the unprecedented and unnecessary evisceration of state regulatory authority to fill critical safety and enforcement gaps that is contemplated in the working draft.”

Translation: Don’t gut the state’s power to protect people!

Massachusetts: “I write to you now regarding the effect of the proposed preemption provisions and the serious concerns I have regarding the ability of Massachusetts public health and environmental agencies to continues to do their important, and at times groundbreaking work protecting our citizens from potentially risky chemicals if those proposed provisions are allowed to stand.”

Translation: States rock at chemical policy: let them rock steady.

Vermont: “Removing the states’ enforcement authority for federal requirements does not appear to be solving any identified problem in the system, and it results in a dramatic reduction of government authority to enforce the substance of federal regulations.”

Translation: Why “fix” the only un-broken part of our chemical control system?

Joint Letter: “These examples [from New York, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Oregon and Washington] underscore the importance of maintaining the complementary, symbiotic relationships between federal and state chemical regulation in any TSCA reform.”

Translation: States and feds need to keep working together for safer chemicals!

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