House bill would keep states from setting tough toxics rules

House Republicans are pushing legislation that would keep states from setting standards for pesticides and health-threatening industrial chemicals that are more stringent than federal regulations. If passed, the bill could nullify a California ban on brominated fire retardants, for example, and restrictions in San Francisco that limit certain chemicals in baby products. The bill would also require the U.S. EPA to use a cost-benefit standard when determining whether to ban certain toxics, and would impose no timetable for regulation, potentially delaying phaseouts of dangerous chemicals while the agency studies whether regulations are too hard on industry. The legislation was OK’d by one House committee this week, but would still need approval from another before moving to the House floor, and the Senate has yet to take it up at all. The bill is opposed by 12 state attorneys general, the American Nurses Association, and more than 60 environmental and public-health groups.