Responding to the Freedom Industries chemical spill
The election is less than one month away. There are several candidate forums happening in the next few weeks (here and here, for examples). If you’re going to any of these events, here are some important questions to ask:
1. What changes do you think need to be made to Senate Bill 373?
Several legislators, led by House Speaker Tim Miley, are already calling for more exemptions to be inserted into SB 373. Their call earlier this year for a special session to make changes to Senate Bill 373 was unsuccessful, but it is likely that SB 373 will be under attack during the 2015 legislative session starting in January. We need to know which candidates will be champions in defending the bill.
2. Do you support increased funding for the Department of Environmental Protection to increase its capacity for inspections and enforcement of SB 373 and other laws?
Legislators like to complain that there is no money for anything, but this lack of money is at least partially their fault. As we posted previously, corporate tax cuts since 2006 are a major contributor to our state’s current budget shortfall.
Failure to enforce existing regulation was a key factor in this year’s water crisis. We can pass all the new regulations we want, but unless we have the capacity to enforce them, we won’t get very far. We need legislators that are willing to restore funding so that state agencies actually have resources to protect our state.
3. Would you support or sponsor legislation to implement a Hazardous Chemical Release Prevention Program, as recommended by the US Chemical Safety Board?
In 2011, the US Chemical Safety Board recommended the adoption of a Hazardous Chemical Release Prevention Program, modeled after a successful program in Contra Costa County, CA. The only place where the Chemical Safety Board appears in SB 373 is the requirement that the Public Water System Supply Study Commission review and consider their recommendation. The Chemical Safety Board’s recommendation is already more than 3 years old, and the legislature has yet to take any action that would suggest that they plan to implement it any time soon.