07/11/2006 10:11 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Republican Majority -- Choosing Chemical Industry Over Public Health

This Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), is going to consider legislation to allow the United States to implement the Stockholm Convention which blatantly places the interests of the chemical industry above the needs of public health, undermines our states rights, and limits the ability of our nation to be a global leader.

Despite all this - the Republican majority will excitedly embrace this legislation. Why? Because this bill includes one of the worst cost-benefit standards since Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America and there is nothing they would love to do more than continue the gutting of our nation's safety, health and environmental regulations in the context of an international environmental treaty. Simply, it is a gift to the chemical industry.

This is unfortunate. The Stockholm Convention is an important step toward protecting public health at home and abroad from highly toxic substances which can cause serious developmental problems, including learning disabilities and birth defects. This treaty will not only ban chemicals and pesticides such as PCBs and DDT globally, but creates a venue to address such substances as lindane or flame retardants. This treaty was negotiated by President Clinton, signed by President Bush, and has been widely endorsed as an important step toward improving public health and the environment around the world.

I believe that legislation to allow the United States to implement this treaty must allow the United States to continue its role as a global leader while at the same time protecting public health. I introduced legislation to achieve these goals. My bill, H.R. 4800, has been endorsed by the American Nurses Association, National Hispanic Environmental Council, United Steelworkers, the lead United States' negotiators for the Convention, 11 state Attorneys General, nearly two dozen American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, and more than 60 environmental and public health groups. Why? Because it protects public health!

The markup is nothing more than an attempt to appear environmentally friendly while implementing one of the most egregious public health and environmental standards. I will fight again to defeat this bill and protect public health, US sovereignty and US global leadership. But tomorrow will be a sad day, when once again my Republican colleagues are willing to sell out public health for the highest bidder - the chemical industry.