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Vermont Attorney General Opposes Proposal To Strip States Of The Right To Protect Their Citizens Against Toxic Chemicals

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

April 17, 2014

The Vermont Attorney General and 12 other state attorneys general sent a letter today to the leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy objecting to a provision in proposed legislation amending the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) that would strip states of the power to protect their citizens and the environment from dangerous chemicals.

The proposed legislation, entitled the “Chemicals in Commerce Act,” includes language that would eliminate the authority that states now have to reduce the risks posed by toxic chemicals. Currently, both federal and state governments regulate such chemicals, and Vermont has already done so with respect to mercury, lead, phthalates, bisphenol A, the gasoline additive MTBE, and various classes of flame retardants.

“Protecting Vermont’s children and adults from toxic chemicals is an important function of the State, which we share with the federal government,” said Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell, “and we must ensure that we continue to have the legal authority to act in this area.”

The letter states that “if enacted, the draft bill’s broad preemption language would effectively eliminate the existing federal-state partnership on the regulation of toxic chemicals by preventing states from continuing their successful and ongoing legislative, regulatory and enforcement work that has historically reduced the risks to public health and the environment posed by toxic chemicals.” Recognizing that TSCA has failed to meet its goal of restricting the manufacture and use of chemicals that present an unacceptable risk of injury to public health and the environment, the letter offers the states’ assistance in crafting new federal legislation that is more effective, while preserving their traditional role in protecting the health and welfare of their citizens.

The Attorneys General joining in today’s letter are from California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.