Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Business Meeting
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 10:00 AM
Today's agenda includes several bills that the committee has been working on and I expect to support most of them. However, I would like to take a few moments to explain my concerns on S. 847 the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 and then urge support of my colleagues on S. 2282 the North American Wetland Conservation Extension Act of 2012 (NAWCA).
I will not be supporting S. 847, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 as currently drafted. I certainly share Senator Lautenberg's desire to modernize TSCA and, last year, we worked together holding a series of meetings with stakeholders to find a bipartisan path forward. It was my understanding that Senators Vitter, Crapo, Alexander, and Lautenberg would begin with a "blank sheet" to craft a workable bill that could win the support of Democrats, Republicans, and a broad coalition of stakeholders. Unfortunately, a political decision was made to abandon this process after just a few short weeks and today we're looking at a bill that is largely the same Safe Chemicals Act Republicans have opposed for years. I truly applaud Senator Lautenberg's dedication on this issue, but simply introducing a partisan bill year in and year out has not and will not lead us to a bipartisan solution that modernizes TSCA.
I would like to place into the record a letter from Senator Snowe urging that the EPW committee move forward in a bipartisan fashion; as well as a letter sent Monday from myself and Senators Vitter, Crapo and Alexander to Senator Lautenberg voicing our disappointment with the process; and a similar letter sent by 43 industry groups. Let's keep in mind that we are marking up S. 847 without ever having EPA testify on the bill - and after having received the Chairman's mark only 24 hours ago, despite having been promised that we would have ample notice of any committee markup.
Unfortunately, this decision to conduct the mark-up today has effectively ended any hope of bipartisan TSCA modernization this year. However, Republicans are determined to continue our efforts to get a bipartisan bill done, and we will keep working towards that goal.
I would also like to mention S. 2282, North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act of 2012 (NAWCA), which is a great bipartisan effort that I hope we can achieve with TSCA in the future. I introduced this bill along with Chairman Boxer - she and I have consistently supported it because it's a plan that works. NAWCA incentivizes non-federal contributions to maintain and restore wetland habitat throughout North America. Since NAWCA's inception in 1989, each federal dollar has been matched, on average, by $3.20 in state and private funds. Not only do these funds help to support waterfowl populations that were once nearing all time lows, these voluntary projects also support nearly 7,500 new jobs annually.
The success of this program lies in the fact that these projects are not top down regulations coming from the federal government; they involve multiple partners from private organizations and the federal government who work together voluntarily to protect and restore millions of acres of wetlands. Both Democrats and Republicans can agree that this how environmental conservation should be achieved, and I look forward to passing it out of committee today.
In closing, I hope we as a committee can put today's distractions behind us and return to our bipartisan work on TSCA very soon. Thank you.