A top House Democrat is urging the chamber’s GOP majority to hold a hearing on the West Virginia chemical spill that left hundreds of thousands of people unable to use tap water in recent days.
The request from Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, shows that the accident will likely influence political battles over the scope of federal chemical regulation.
“Late last week, residents of nine counties in West Virginia learned that their water supply had been contaminated with a toxic chemical for which emergency responders and regulators had precious little information,” the California Democrat and a colleague said in a letter Monday.
“We are writing to request that you immediately schedule a hearing to examine the regulatory gaps that this incident has exposed in the nation’s toxic-chemical-control laws,” adds the letter from Waxman to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.
A spokeswoman for Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans, in a statement, did not say directly whether a hearing would occur.
“The committee is actively monitoring the federal investigation and working to fully obtain the facts surrounding the situation,” spokeswoman Charlotte Baker said.
Efforts to toughen Environmental Protection Agency chemical oversight under the Toxic Substances Control Act have failed to advance on Capitol Hill for years, but some environmentalists are using the accident to revive calls to strengthen the law.
The letter from Waxman and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., urges Shimkus to hold a hearing on the spill and “its relevance to the committee’s consideration of TSCA reform legislation.”
West Virginia officials began lifting water use restrictions Monday, five days after a chemical used in coal processing called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol seeped into the Elk River from a plant in Charleston.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.