Senate Committee Passes 10 Bills

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed measures on July 31 that address toxic substances in drinking water, including perchlorate, and trichloroethylene (TCE), the export and release of toxic mercury, environmental justice issues, hazardous waste tracking, the Great Lakes, and sanitation systems for rural and native villages in Alaska.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the committee said: "The bills … tackle some of the most dangerous pollution threatening our families and communities."

The committee passed the following bills:

• S.24, the Perchlorate Monitoring and Right to Know Act. This bill requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reestablish its previous perchlorate in drinking water monitoring rule, until a drinking water standard requires monitoring. It also requires that people be told about perchlorate contamination in their drinking water.

• S. 150, Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Perchlorate Act. This bill requires EPA to promptly create a perchlorate health advisory and then a drinking water standard, both of which must protect vulnerable persons, including pregnant women and children.

• S. 906, the Mercury Market Minimization Act. This one prohibits the export of elemental mercury from the United States and prohibits federal agencies from selling elemental mercury, in order to help reduce exposure to this dangerous toxin worldwide.

• S. 1911, the TCE Reduction Act. This measure would force EPA to update tap water standards to protect people, including susceptible populations, such as pregnant women, infants and children, from trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent that is the most common organic groundwater contaminant in the United States, and which causes cancer, including childhood cancer, and birth defects. The bill also requires EPA to set a "health advisory" that warns people at what level TCE is dangerous.

• S. 2549, the Environmental Justice Renewal Act. This bill requires federal agencies to implement plans to identify and then reduce or eliminate environmental justice threats, and to expand their efforts to gather information about environmental justice problems and help develop solutions to such serious issues. This will help protect those populations that are disproportionately burdened by pollution.

• S. 642, The Environmental Justice Act of 2007. This bill requires implementation of the Clinton Executive Order on environmental justice and strengthens federal efforts to address environmental justice problems. It also requires agencies to implement environmental justice recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and EPA's Inspector General.

• S. 3109, Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act. This bill would authorize an electronic manifest system to track hazardous waste shipments to protect public health and the environment, while reducing paperwork, and improving government and public access to data.

• S. 1933, the Small Community Drinking Water Funding Act. This measure requires the EPA Administrator to establish a Small Public Water System Assistance Program, including a program for Indian tribes, to assist small water systems in complying with national primary drinking water regulations. The bill provides an authorization of $750 million annually for seven years.

• S. 199, Rural Alaska Native Village Water and Sewer Bill. This measure modifies grant programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act to help improve sanitation in rural and Native villages in the State of Alaska.

• S.2994, Great Lakes Legacy Act. This bill reauthorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 and expands the existing program to improve environmental and water quality in the Great Lakes by greatly reducing contaminated sediments in the lakes.

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