Seventeen months after the Freedom Industries chemical spill along the Elk River in the greater Charleston, WV metropolitan area, the United State House of Representatives is finally troubling itself with reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The House has voted to approve TSCA reform. We should be rejoicing. With thousands of new chemicals unregulated this is a step in the right direction. Except it isn’t. Reform measures passed by the House do little to close the gap and are ineffective to prevent another incident like the one that occurred along the Elk River. Practically handwritten by industry darlings, the proposed reform measures fall short of meaningful change in the outdated law. Industry has convinced House leadership that too much regulation is bad for business. However, no one seems to care that too little regulation is bad for the public health, safety, and welfare.
Communities all across the country have been put in harm’s way to appease companies who take short cuts and endanger the lives of employees and neighboring families alike. Chemical spills and explosions disproportionately impact low income communities. People with the fewest resources are put in the greatest harm all for the economic benefit of another. We need socially conscious industry development in order to protect our communities and families. We should not be forced to trade jobs and economic development for health and safety.