Legislative Update: Toxic Chemical Reform

VPIRG's Paul Burns testifies in front of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy in support of protecting Vermonters from toxic chemicals

The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee has been reviewing S. 103, the toxic chemical reform bill based on recommendations from a working group convened in response to PFOA contamination in Vermont.

The comprehensive recommendations suggested by the working group would expand and strengthen our toxic chemical regulations, provide more information to communities, and help our businesses improve planning to reduce their use of hazardous chemicals.

Unfortunately, on Monday we found out that the bill was not as strong as we had expected from our champions on the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. While the bill would create an Interagency Committee on Chemical Management to help coordinate efforts in State government, many key recommendations from the working group were not included in a new version of the bill. These include:

  • Regular water testing to protect our ground water and drinking water from toxic substances
  • Necessary improvements to the law requiring industry to report their toxic substance use to the State, which has not been updated since the early 1990’s
  • Any requirement that the Interagency Committee maintain & improve an inventory of chemicals in Vermont and recommend improvements to our laws to protect the public.
  • Providing the Commissioner of Health with clear authority to act in the public interest and protect Vermonters, especially our most vulnerable populations, from toxic chemicals and hazardous substances.
  • Ensuring that UPC codes are included in reporting under the Toxics Free Families Act to ensure that information about toxic chemicals in children’s products is accessible to the public.

We support S. 103, but we believe it could be much stronger. We have the opportunity to act to protect Vermonters while at the same time strengthening collaboration on toxic chemical regulation in State government.

This bill is being voted on this FridayTell your Senator that it’s time to pass comprehensive toxics regulation!

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