James M. Inhofe


Inhofe Opening Statement for Business Meeting to Consider Markup, Nomination, GSA Resolutions


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, provided the following opening statement today at the business meeting to consider six bills for markup, a nomination, and GSA resolutions. The business meeting will consider the following:


·         S. 697, The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (21 cosponsors)

·         S. 544, Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 (7 cosponsors)

·         S. 653, Water Resources Research Amendments Act of 2015

·         S. 611, Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (17 cosponsors)

·         S. 261, A bill to designate the United States courthouse located at 200 NW 4th Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as the William J. Holloway, Jr. United States Courthouse

·         S. 612, A bill to designate the federal building and United States courthouse located at 1300 Victoria Street in Laredo, Texas, as the “George P. Kazen Federal Building and United States Courthouse”

·         S. 1034, A bill to designate the United States courthouse located at 501 East Court Street in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “Charles Clark United States Courthouse”

·         The nomination of Mark Scarano, of New Hampshire, to be the Federal Cochairperson of the Northern Border Regional Commission

·         GSA resolutions



As prepared for delivery:


I call this first mark-up of the EPW Committee to order.


We have a number of items, many of which are bipartisan, which we can report out of the Committee this morning.  Senator Barrasso’s bill (S.544) ensuring data on which EPA bases its regulations available to the public, Senator Wicker’s bill (S.611) to reauthorize the Safe Drinking Water Act’s technical assistance and training provision to assist small and rural public water systems.  This is legislation that the Committee reported last Congress by voice vote.  Senator Cardin and Boozman’s bill to reauthorize Water Resources Research Act grants.  We have a few naming bills, the nomination of Mark Scarano to be Federal Co-chairperson of the Northern Border Regional Commission, and finally GSA resolutions all of which have already been approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this Congress.


One of the principal items on the agenda is S. 679, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Security for the 21st Century Act authored by Senators Vitter and Udall.  This is legislation which now has the bipartisan cosponsorship of 22 Senators – 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans, and has bipartisan support within this Committee.  In fact, due to the consistent work of Senators Vitter and Udall, we now have reached a new amendment with the support of Senators Whitehouse, Merkley, and Booker.  I genuinely appreciate their work over the last number of weeks to reach this compromise.


For years Senator Lautenberg worked to update the 1976 law, introducing bills each Congress.  He and I met in my office in 2012 and he asked if we could work together organizing stakeholder meetings to gather information to craft legislation with actual bipartisan support.  Major environmental laws do not get passed or updated without bipartisan support.  TSCA is long overdue as Dr. McCabe, chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, testified at our legislative hearing on March 18, “the current Federal framework for the regulation of toxic substances is badly antiquated.” He also testified, “The legislation before the committee today, developed by Senators Tom Udall and David Vitter, and co-sponsored by numerous other Senators, including the Chairman, represents a critical step forward toward establishing a system of chemical regulation that will be protective of maternal and child health.” 


Dr. Richard Denison of Environmental Defense Fund testified, “EDF supports the Lautenberg Act as a solid compromise that fixes the biggest problems in the current law, is health protective and has the strong bipartisan support necessary to become law.”


Finally, Dr. Lynn Goldman, a former EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances during the Clinton Administration, a former California regulator, and perhaps most importantly a pediatrician testified the public health standard in this bill is “an immense improvement over current law.”  She also identified that the bill orders strong chemical testing, directs that EPA certify safety of new chemicals, and make more chemical information public.  This is a bill which has the support of the regulated community, environmental community, many in the medical community, and bipartisan support in the Senate.  We should report so that the full Senate may consider this bill.