Washington Must Address Environmental Consequences of Farm Policy, Chemicals Policy, Gas Drilling
Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the 2012 election, Environmental Working Group has issued the following statements on three key issues central to EWG’s mission:
Federal farm policy, natural gas extraction that protects people, water and land and fixing the nation’s failed federal chemicals law.
Producing a responsible, comprehensive farm bill:
“One lesson from last night's election is that taxpayers of both parties want Congress to get America's fiscal house in order,” said Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at Environmental Working Group. “Rushing through a five-year, $1 trillion bill in the next five weeks - legislation that would expand subsidies to big agriculture at a time of record farm income - is exactly the opposite of what voters are demanding from Congress and the Obama administration. As we near the fiscal cliff, Washington should stay focused on the nation's fiscal and economic necessities. It should not dole out more scarce taxpayer dollars to hugely profitable agribusiness.”
Safeguarding public health and the environment from fracking:
“We congratulate the President on his victory and look forward to working with the administration to advocate more effective regulation of oil and shale gas drilling, including more disclosure of secret toxic chemicals used during drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations,” said Heather White, chief of staff and general counsel at Environmental Working Group. “The White House and Congress should take a hard look at the exemptions from seven different federal environmental laws now enjoyed by the drilling industry.”
“We urge the administration to investigate the oil and natural gas industry's leasing practices and the negative impact of drilling on mortgages and property values,” White said. “The recent boom in natural gas and oil production is changing the landscape of America, including people’s backyards, while regulations remain lax. Until we have a framework in place to ensure that drilling happens responsibly, we need to stem the fracking tide as it makes its way across America. EWG and our colleagues from other public interest groups will use the power of information and a growing grassroots base of support to make sure our elected leaders strike a better balance between energy production and other important values including our drinking water, our health, and our homes.”
Reform of the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act:
“In 2009, President Obama made reforming the broken federal chemicals law a top legislative priority of his environmental agenda,” said Heather White, chief of staff and general counsel for Environmental Working Group. “However, after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Safe Chemicals Act, S.487, in a historic vote earlier this year, the effort stalled. EWG hopes the President will use his reelection mandate as an opportunity to work with Democrats and Republicans to enact this bill in order to protect kids from exposures to toxic chemicals.”
“Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Environment and Public Works committee, has championed this bill for years,” White said. “We congratulate Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the new ranking Republican on this panel. He has acknowledged the need to fix the Toxic Substances Control Act. There is room to work together, and we hope the Obama administration and Congress can produce a bill that both public health advocates and industry can support and that will safeguard human health and the environment from the risks posed by toxic chemicals.”
“From day one, Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has been committed to reforming the federal law and using her limited authority to protect families from toxic chemicals.” White said. “Absent comprehensive chemicals policy reform, President Obama can take steps now to protect children’s health. He can issue rules that have been languishing for years inside his Office of Management and Budget, at the behest of the chemical industry and at the expense of human health.”
• The Chemicals of Concern List assembled by EPA Administrator Jackson has been held up at OMB since May 2010. By issuing this list President Obama would enable EPA to better control several toxic, widely used chemicals, including some phthalates, bisphenol A, or BPA, and a number of flame-retardants.
• The OMB has held up Nanoscale Materials Reporting Rule since November 2010. It would require manufacturers of nanomaterials to report production volume, methods of manufacture, processing, exposure and release information and available health and safety data.