On April 17, 2014, a coalition of 13 Attorneys General voiced their objections to the draft Chemicals in Commerce Act in a letter to United States House Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Paul Tonko (D-NY). The Attorneys General’s primary objection was the perceived overly broad preemption provisions, which, according to the letter, would deprive states of their ability to protect their citizens and environment. The following states were represented in the letter: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Grimaldi Law Offices previously reported on the draft Chemicals in Commerce Act, released for discussion on February 27, 2014 by House Representative John Shimkus (R-IL). With dual objectives of improving public confidence in chemical safety and facilitating interstate commerce, the draft bill contains a broad preemption provision that, as predicted, is now the source of controversy. The Chemicals in Commerce Act discussion draft prohibits states from regulating a chemical substance, mixture or article when EPA already is regulating that substance, mixture or article, or when EPA has made a determination regarding the risk of harm to human health or the environment.
With individual states escalating their efforts to regulate chemicals and products within their boundaries (see GLO’s previous report on Vermont’s bill on toxics in consumer products), uniformity on chemical regulation at a national level is critical. However, states traditionally have protected their citizens by enacting laws under their police powers emanating from the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It’s most unlikely that states will cede their rights and powers in this controversy.