EWG Scorecard Should be a Wake-Up Call on Toxics
The Environmental Working Group Action Fund released a report scoring every member of the House of Representatives on their voting record for legislation in support of President Trump’s pro-chemical industry agenda. The Sierra Club worked with the EWG on many chemical safety and environmental toxic issues. Rep. MacArthur voted against the environment in all but one instance with Reps. Lance and Frelinghuysen having similar anti-environmental records. Reps. Smith and LoBiondo also voted in favor of multiple piece of legislation that would rollback chemical safety. All of New Jersey’s Democratic Representatives have a voting record that is majority, if not entirely, pro-environment on these issues. Reps Norcross, Pallone, Sires, Pascrell, Payne, and Watson Coleman all scored a 100% on the scorecard.
“This year it’s critical to look at Congressmembers voting records on the environment and especially toxic and chemical safety. This EWG report shows us clearly who is fighting to protect us and who is in lock-step with corporate polluters. Some of New Jersey’s Reps, including MacArthur, who scored a dismal 6%, Lance, and Frelinghuysen, have consistently voted for legislation that would put our communities at risk to help the chemical industry agenda. For the sake of our own health and public safety, we must hold our officials accountable to block these dangerous rollbacks,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We want to thank the New Jersey Representatives who have been champions for our public health, safety and the environment. This includes six of our Democratic members who scored 100% on the scorecard.”
The scorecard reflects votes on legislation related to chemical safety. The Trump Administration has been attempting to rollback protections with these bills, many of which would directly affect the people of New Jersey. These pieces of legislation include goals of delaying settlements, preventing communications, reversing safeguards, allowing pollution loopholes, and removing protections for our drinking water. Some of these bills also include removing important protections for farmworkers and other victims of chemical exposure, including asbestos.
“Many of these pieces of legislation present very real and serious dangers to the people of New Jersey. Despite this, some of our Representatives still voted for them. For example, Frelinghuysen and MacArthur voted against protecting water supplies for toxic chemicals. Lance joined them in voting to create loopholes for toxic air pollution. Lance also voted against money for lead remediation. All these of these Reps, as well as Reps. Lobiando and Smith, voted to reverse toxic chemical safeguards, delay toxic settlements, and prevent important communication on toxic chemicals,” said Jeff Tittel. “These Representatives have voted to directly put the health, environment, and safety of New Jersey at risk.”
The Risk Management Program Rule was put in place by the Obama Administration and has received backlash from the chemical industry. The proposed rollbacks under the Trump Administration target requirements for plant owners consider safer alternatives to various technologies, third-party audits to check for compliance with accident prevention rules, conduct “root cause” analyses after incidents and disclose certain information to the community about operations.
“Chemical safety is very critical in a state like New Jersey because we have so many people living close or very near these dangerous facilities: around a hundred sites across the state. The risk of a spill or explosion threatens our safety, health, and environment. The risk of a spill or explosion threatens our safety, health, and environment. We’re seen them blow up like Napp Chemical which killed four people, and facilities like Kuehune Chemical which also put millions of people at risk. That is why we need strong chemical safety legislation to protect us from the hazards of the over a hundred of these facilities in New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel. “New Jersey also deals with toxic chemicals in our drinking water including lead, chromium, and PFOAs as well as toxins in our air and under our communities.”
The Trump Administration has been making dozens of efforts to weaken environmental an public safety protections when it comes to chemicals. They proposed to change the Risk Management Program Rule, rolling back important regulations that reduce the risks of chemical plant disasters. They’re attempting to reverse Obama’s ban of the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. They even nominated a senior attorney at Dow Chemical Co. to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office responsible for highly contaminated Superfund sites. Dow is responsible for 96 Superfund sites nationwide and owns Dupont, who are accountable for some of the most contaminated Superfund sites in New Jersey.
“There are Congressmembers who vote in lock-step with the Trump Administration’s anti-environmental agenda, especially when it comes to dangerous chemicals. They side with corporate profits over protecting the public health of the people of this country. In New Jersey, there are other members of Congress who fight these rollbacks and support protections for clean air and water and removing toxins from the environment. We must hold all elected officials accountable. This includes applauding those who vote to protect New Jersey and calling out those who vote consistently with Trump’s anti-environmental agenda,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.