WASHINGTON, April 22 – As tests for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) contaminating drinking water in North Bennington, Bennington and Pownal continue this week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) pressed two congressional committees, charged with finalizing legislation to regulate toxic chemicals, for stricter federal rules and deference to strong state protections already in place in Vermont and across the country.
The Vermont Delegation’s call comes during the final negotiations on reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act, which passed the House and Senate last year. The a letter to the Chair and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee On Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, urges that the final legislation should not preempt state laws protecting vulnerable populations and should strengthen Toxic Substances Control Act’s most important provisions.
“When visiting communities affected by the recent discovery of PFOA, the discussions inevitably turn to the broader issues raised by this contamination. In particular, we have been urged to reform federal law to prevent dangerous chemicals from ever again being carelessly released into the air and spilled into the waters of our cities and towns, and from being used in the everyday products we use in our homes.” wrote Sanders, Leahy and Welch.
As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sanders helped lead the effort in Committee to protect Vermont’s strong laws regulating dangerous chemicals. Leahy, a leading member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in March visited with officials and residents in Bennington and called for more federal funding to address contaminations like PFOA and stricter regulations on toxic chemicals. Welch made a similar visit the next week.