Boxer fears language in the bill could undermine rigorous chemical and environmental laws already on the books in California.
Meanwhile, the attorneys general of nine states, including California, planned to send a letter Wednesday to Environment and Public Works Committee Democrats highlighting concerns about the bill’s effect on state enforcement powers.
“Our citizens are better served when states are allowed to complement the federal government’s efforts,” they wrote in the letter. “Innovative state laws often result in better regulation and more safeguards, particularly for vulnerable subpopulations such as children and pregnant women.”
Committee Democrats see the hearing as an opportunity to persuade Boxer to move the bipartisan compromise through committee — despite her earlier comments that it has no chance of passing in its current form through the panel.
Interests with a stake in the legislation say Boxer has committed to listening to their viewpoints before charting a path forward. She previously said the committee will hold hearings to examine several bills addressing chemical safety — including an earlier version of Lautenberg’s bill with only Democratic co-sponsors — as she develops a chairman’s mark.
Supporters of the compromise struck just before Lautenberg’s June 3 death say it represents the best starting point for action on a broad overhaul.
“It’s not very often you get the opportunity to work on major environmental legislation on a bipartisan basis,” said an aide to a committee Democrat.
A large coalition of public health, environmental and labor organizations called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families opposes the Lautenberg-Vitter bill in its current form but has advocated for amendments to make the measure more acceptable to member groups. A handful of other organizations, particularly the Environmental Working Group, has taken a harder line against the legislation.
Aides know that changes will be necessary if the bill is to have any chance of advancing through committee and moving to the floor.
“This hearing could help to serve as a road map for how we can get the bill from where it is to a place where Sen. Boxer feels comfortable marking it up,” the Democratic aide said.