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David Vitter

Vitter Promises Bill Fix to Protect Prop. 65

David VitterWho says Congress is slow: Senators have already reacted to reports that the Lautenberg-Vitter chemical regulation bill threatens California’s Proposition 65 and other state rules.

Last week nine attorneys general wrote to the Senate to say the current bill could pose a serious threat to public safety by keeping states from addressing potential risks from toxic substances, and from using their enforcement powers, the Hill reports.

The same day, in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, bill sponsor David Vitter (R-LA, picturedsaid he and Tom Udall (D-NM) would write a new version of the bill to eliminate the concerns.

Vitter said that the state oversight contained in the bill was unintentional. Referring to his co-sponsor, the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Vitter said, “Frank and I talked specifically about Prop 65 and we never intended to neuter Prop 65 in any way.”

Perhaps Vitter’s commitment to Prop. 65 is strong, but his support for state-level chemical regulation is still questionable. According to the Los Angeles Times, in the Republican’s negotiations with his Democratic co-sponsor, “Vitter agreed to back new authority for the EPA to screen all chemicals for safety. But in exchange, he insisted on provisions, backed by the chemical industry, that could prohibit states from adding regulations of their own.

Where exactly does Vitter draw the line? Will the re-written bill perhaps protect existing state regulations on chemicals, while still preventing new ones? It would be helpful if the senator could clarify his stance.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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