Not All Chemicals Are Created Equal™

As recently reported at the Environmental Leader, in a story entitled Reality Bites: EPA Withdraws Two Draft Chemical Rules, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently withdrew two draft regulations intended to enhance chemical oversight. The lengthy report about this is a one-act play on how Washington often works. It’s frustrating. But well-beyond the sense of impatience one should get from this, there’s the more profound matter that delay and indecision and non-decisions can have on everyone’s health. One of the withdrawn rules, for example, as reported in the story … would have diminished the opportunity for chemical manufacturers to claim as confidential business information (CBI) (and thus prevent public disclosure) the chemical identity of substances identified in certain health and safety studies submitted to EPA.

I will leave it to you to guess who is thrilled by this news. As for me, sure, I have a vested interest in seeing as much disclosure as possible from chemical manufacturers. But I have an overarching human interest in it as well. Don’t you?

As one who is tasked with monitoring Washington political actions, particularly as they effect bio-based chemicals and bio-refinery initiatives, I’ve recently taken up the habit of checking local news stories across the land that chronicle various meetings lawmakers are having with constituents during this recess period. In sharp contrast to the look and feel of meetings on Capitol Hill, meetings in local districts tend to draw plain-speaking people with a genuine vested interest in the outcome of proposed legislation. In was in one of these accounts – in fact the last sentence of the story – that included something that may make most people’s jaws drop in the heartland. The sentence, from a story in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette by James Q. Lynch entitled, Support for farm bill at U.S. Rep. Braley meeting fragmented, was this: The current farm bill expires Sept. 30. If Congress fails to act by that date, existing agricultural programs will end and farm policy will revert to the programs outlined in the 1949 Farm Bill.

It seems plausible to me that this potential outcome isn’t widely known throughout America. But it has been reported elsewhere. Here’s just one of many examples. It comes from a site called policymic in a story with the headline: Reforming the Farm Bill Isn’t Just About Money; It’s About America’s Health. In it, writer Olga Jbeili reports: If a new bill fails to pass, farm programs would lose billions of dollars and would go back to the 1949 law, which would reintroduce higher governments price supports for milk, corn, rice, wheat and could lead to higher consumer prices and federal spending.

1949? Seriously? If you really want to get a grip on just how long ago that was, scan this site at For example the first 45 rpm record was launched by RCA in 1949.  Ya, I know, what’s a 45 rpm record? OK, Harry Truman was President. And, for an additional glimpse into how ridiculous it would be to lash the 1949 bill onto 2013, see this from the WONKBLOG at The Washington Post, with special reference to the section entitled We’re going to party like it’s 1949.