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Over 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study

The Hill logo The Hill 9/18/2018 Miranda Green

a person sitting on top of a grass covered field © Provided by The Hill More than 100 lawmakers consistently voted for legislation to weaken safeguards against toxic chemicals, a recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released Tuesday found.

In the environmental group's first annual scorecard of the voting patterns of House lawmakers on chemical policy measures, the group found that a number of largely Republican lawmakers voted for measures that aim to weaken chemical standards or place obstacles in front of new chemical protections.

The report found that over 100 lawmakers consistently voted for these measures at every chance they got.

Legislators who EWG say consistently championed legislation that would weaken chemical safeguards include Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas). All three politicians were among a group that introduced their own bills that in some fashion could make it easier for chemicals to pass regulatory hurdles.

Lewis, for example, introduced a bill that could require agencies to submit chemical safety plans for congressional review, which EPW said could delay or block the implementation of the safeguards.

"While no president has ever done as much to weaken safeguards for toxic chemicals as Donald Trump, too many members of Congress have collaborated with the Trump administration or cast votes in favor of policies that reversed or delayed chemical bans, gutted chemical safety rules, rejected sound science, weakened worker and consumer protections, and denied justice to asbestos victims," the report found.

The report also highlighted Republican lawmakers who voted for legislation that would increase chemical standards including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) who voted against the farm bill, which included a number of amendments making it easier for pesticides to pass inspection, the group said.

Concerns about chemical safety standards have grown under the Trump administration as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other departments move to implement a number of new policies critics say weaken environmental protections. The EPA this summer has been criticized for new plans to regulate asbestos.

Asbestos is largely not banned on the federal level, but a 2016 law gave the EPA authority to prohibit the carcinogen.

The EPA's proposal, released in June, came under criticism that it would open the door to widespread uses of asbestos. EPA officials have ardently denied the accusations, saying the proposed regulations would effectively ban the substance

Timothy Cama contributed to this report.

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