The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Legislature

January 12, 2014

How They Voted: week ending Jan. 10

WASHINGTON — Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Jan. 10.

House

GOP changes to superfund law

Voting 225 for and 188 against, the House on Jan. 9 passed a GOP bill (HR 2279) to scale back the federal Superfund law by shifting some of its enforcement authority to states and easing requirements on companies to obtain insurance to pay for cleaning up their own toxic waste. The Superfund was enacted in 1980 to give the government resources for cleansing abandoned industrial landfills and averting such sites in the future. The law has restored more than 300 toxic sites for development, with Love Canal in Niagara Falls, N.Y., one of its most publicized projects. The Environmental Protection Agency currently has more than 1,000 additional sites on its priority list. This bill also curbs solid-waste provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which is the Superfund's parent statute and the main federal law for regulating the disposal of solid and hazardous wastes.

Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said: "States are on the front lines and understand at the ground level how to prioritize environmental actions. ... They often come up with innovative solutions that better fit the local problem."

Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the bill "would significantly weaken our country's hazardous-waste laws and further shift the burden of cleaning up these sites from the entities responsible for the contamination to the taxpayer instead."

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to die.

Voting yes: John Kline, R-2, Erik Paulsen, R-3, Michele Bachmann, R-6, Collin Peterson, D-7

Voting no: Tim Walz, D-1, Betty McCollum, D-4, Keith Ellison, D-5, Rick Nolan, D-8

Not voting: None

Democratic superfund measure

Voting 188 for and 225 against, the House on Jan. 9 defeated a Democratic bid to prevent HR 2279 (above) from taking effect if it would result in the long-term exposure of vulnerable populations within five miles of waste sites to substances that contaminate drinking water or cause ailments "such as respiratory disease, cancer or reproductive disorders."

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