Many Americans were significantly shaken up by the recent toxic chemical incident in West Virginia. In addition to the roughly 300,000 West Virginia residents who were directly impacted by the chemical accident, millions of others have grown concerned that similar incidents could affect their own wellbeing and the health of their families.

Unfortunately, a bill recently passed by the House would likely make the occurrence of other accidents similar to the one in West Virginia more common. The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act would make current environmental regulations and hazardous waste cleanup provisions less stable in several ways.

First, the bill would make it easier for companies at risk-for environmental compliance violations related to toxic substances to avoid cleanup liability in the event that an accident occurs. Specifically, the bill would make the process of compelling companies that interact with toxic substances to carry cleanup insurance more difficult. This development would make it more likely that taxpayers would be required to foot the bill for spills in the event of any toxic substance accidents.

Second, the bill would eliminate mandatory regulations that compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to both review and appropriately update regulations related to hazardous waste disposal. Finally, it would require the federal government to consult with states before Superfund sites could be properly cleaned up. This procedural hurdle would likely delay the cleanup of toxic substance spills.

Concerned citizens should take hope in the fact that the White House has vowed to veto the bill should it pass the Senate. However, the fact that this frustratingly short-sighted bill passed the House in the first place is cause for concern.

Source: RT, “US House passed bill ravaging toxic-waste law – on same day as W. Virginia chemical spill,” Jan. 10, 2014