Toxic Debate Ahead on Hazardous-Waste Bills in House

GARY, IN - OCTOBER 12: A signs warns people not to swim or fish in a waterway near the United States Steel Gary Works plant October 12, 2007 in Gary, Indiana. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is considering a proposal to relax or omit limits on toxic chemicals and heavy metals dumped into a Lake Michigan tributary by U.S. Steel Corp. The same organization provoked public outcry earlier this year when it gave a nearby BP refinery permission to significantly increase pollution discharged into Lake Michigan. 
National Journal
Jan. 7, 2014, 4:35 p.m.

In the midst of a cold snap, House Re­pub­lic­ans are warm­ing up for the new ses­sion of Con­gress with a re­newed at­tack on what they call fed­er­al over­reach in the en­vir­on­ment­al arena, this time with le­gis­la­tion to give states more con­trol over cleanups at haz­ard­ous-waste sites.

The House is slated to vote Thursday on a pack­age of bills that would al­low states to as­sign pri­or­ity to cleanup pro­jects con­duc­ted un­der fed­er­al laws, in­clud­ing Su­per­fund; to sub­ject fed­er­al cleanups to state and loc­al laws; and to bar the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency from im­pos­ing waste-dis­pos­al reg­u­la­tions in states that already have them.

The meas­ures are sponsored by Re­pub­lic­an Reps. Bill John­son and Bob Latta of Ohio and Cory Gard­ner of Col­or­ado.

“This le­gis­la­tion would give states a great­er say in de­cid­ing which Su­per­fund [sites] should be re­developed first,” John­son said in an in­ter­view. “States are more equipped than fed­er­al bur­eau­crats in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to de­cide which sites should be a pri­or­ity to be cleaned up.”

The de­bate on the le­gis­la­tion gives con­ser­vat­ives an­oth­er op­por­tun­ity to put them­selves on re­cord as op­pon­ents of fed­er­al over­reach and de­fend­ers of states’ rights when it comes to en­ergy and en­vir­on­ment policy — a mes­sage that had plenty of air time in Novem­ber when House Re­pub­lic­ans passed le­gis­la­tion aimed at halt­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tempts to reg­u­late frack­ing.

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chair­man of the House En­ergy and Com­merce En­vir­on­ment and the Eco­nomy Sub­com­mit­tee, signaled that Re­pub­lic­ans will con­tin­ue to broad­cast this mes­sage well in­to the new year. “This im­port­ant le­gis­la­tion in­cor­por­ates sev­er­al of the themes we ex­amined last year and will con­tin­ue to fo­cus on dur­ing 2014, in­clud­ing re­du­cing red tape and mod­ern­iz­ing gov­ern­ment,” Shimkus said.

The le­gis­la­tion is ex­pec­ted to pass the GOP-con­trolled cham­ber with a party-line vote, but has little chance of ad­van­cing in the Demo­crat­ic-con­trolled Sen­ate.

Demo­crats say the bill is par­tis­an, un­ne­ces­sary, and det­ri­ment­al to the en­vir­on­ment. They are hop­ing to pre­vent con­ser­vat­ives from claim­ing even a sym­bol­ic vic­tory on the is­sue.

“This pack­age of le­gis­la­tion moved through com­mit­tee quickly on a par­tis­an vote and of­fers no be­ne­fits to com­munit­ies still work­ing to clean up con­tam­in­ated prop­erty,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.

House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Henry Wax­man, D-Cal­if., sent a let­ter to Shimkus on Tues­day ask­ing him to delay floor con­sid­er­a­tion of the bill. Wax­man con­tends that the sub­com­mit­tee chair­man prom­ised to meet with rep­res­ent­at­ives from the Justice and De­fense de­part­ments to ad­dress con­cerns over the le­gis­la­tion but failed to do so.

“The bill should not be brought to the floor for a vote,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. “It’s bad for the en­vir­on­ment and bad for hu­man health.”

But as of Tues­day af­ter­noon, House GOP aides con­firmed that the le­gis­la­tion was still sched­uled for a vote by the end of the week.

What We're Following See More »
$19B INCLUDES NO IMMIGRATION-RELATED MONEY
Congress, White House Reach Disaster Aid Deal
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
OFFERED $16M IN LOANS FOR ADMINISTRATION JOB
Banker Indicted in New York for Bribery Scheme with Manafort
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
ANOTHER FIVE YEARS
Modi Wins Reelection as India's PM
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
FAMILY WILL JOIN HIM
Trump Headed to UK Next Month
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
FEDERAL JUDGE WON'T BLOCK SUBPOENA OF BANK RECORDS
Trump Loses in Court Again
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login