U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today applauded the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee for marking up and voting to pass out of committee the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, which passed by a bipartisan voice vote. The legislation would improve oversight of chemical facilities and help strengthen states' abilities to prevent chemical spills like the January 9th spill that contaminated the water supply in nine West Virginia counties and impacted more than 300,000 West Virginians. Senator Manchin also thanked EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, a co-sponsor of the bill, and Ranking Member David Vitter for their support. The next step in the legislative process would be for the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act to be called for a vote on the Senate floor.
"Today, we are one step closer to making sure our chemical facilities are appropriately monitored and inspected and our drinking water sources remain safe," Senator Manchin said. "I want to thank members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for reviewing and passing this important piece of legislation, because the bottom line is that no American should have to worry about the contamination of their water supply from a chemical spill. I am also thankful to work with Chairwoman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter on supporting this issue that affects the health and well-being of all Americans."
"I am so pleased that the EPW Committee passed the bipartisan Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, which brings together in one place the tools necessary to better protect drinking water sources from chemical spills," Senator Boxer said. "We must safeguard communities from devastating chemical spills like the one that happened in West Virginia, and I look forward to working with Senator Manchin and my other colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we move forward with this bill."
"Senators Boxer and Manchin and I have worked very closely on this legislation and we've made significant progress in a short period of time," Senator Vitter said. "As we move forward, I'm sure we'll continue to work together to make any necessary improvements and ensure that this bipartisan bill creates a workable framework for the businesses involved, the states who will be administering these programs, and the public water systems that provide communities with clean and safe drinking water."
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) also released a statement on the bill:
"ACC supports Congressional efforts to ensure unfortunate events like the one that affected thousands of lives in West Virginia do not happen in the future. We commend Senator Manchin for his leadership on this important issue and for his commitment to continue working in a bipartisan manner to achieve sensible legislation that would strengthen public safety through enhanced regulation of chemical storage tanks. While we are still evaluating the details of today's amendment to S. 1961, we welcome the progress that has apparently been made by Senators Manchin, Boxer and Vitter to refine the bill. ACC looks forward to working with the Senate as the bill makes its way to the floor.
"We are hopeful that in addition to finding ways for states to prevent incidents like the one in West Virginia, members will also be spurred to move forward on legislation that is currently pending before the Committee to update the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). ACC strongly supports the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), compromise legislation introduced by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator David Vitter and Senator Tom Udall. With 25 bipartisan cosponsors, the CSIA requires that all chemicals in commerce undergo a safety evaluation, including 'grandfathered' chemicals; gives EPA more authority to request additional information about chemicals from manufacturers and processors; increases the transparency of information about chemicals; and enhances cooperation between state and federal regulators. We urge Committee leadership to act on the CSIA."
The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act would require regular state inspections of all above ground chemical storage tanks and more frequent inspections of those tanks located near drinking water sources and those tanks storing high hazard chemicals. It sets minimum federal standards that chemical tanks must meet -- including construction and leak detection requirements, secondary containment standards, the development of emergency response plans, and financial responsibility requirements. Additionally, companies must inform the state, the Environmental Protection Agency, and local water systems of the chemicals they store.