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  • Writer's pictureAIM Team

Democrats filibuster reasonable environmental reform bill

April 20, 2022 - SB 918, filed by Sen. Eric Burlison, would state that Missouri environmental laws regarding hazardous waste may not be stricter than federal hazardous waste regulations. Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) supports this reasonable change to Missouri law, but Democrats are filibustering the bill at this time.

Sen. Burlison explained the bill was filed in response to actions by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with regard to caves in his district. He said the actions were not based on federal statutes or regulations.

AIM has promoted legislation preventing reliance on guidance documents for several years. In fact, Missouri already has statutes in place saying Missouri air and water regulations may not be stricter than federal regulations. This would simply extend this same practice to the hazardous waste program. Issues have arisen under previous administrations of DNR leadership when DNR started to take actions to lower allowable levels of certain chemicals based on guidance from the EPA - not EPA statutes or regulations. In fact, the guidance that provided the basis for this action stated such guidance should NOT be used by state regulators.

"This guidance document does not impose any requirements or obligations on the EPA, the states or tribal governments, or the regulated community," reads a disclaimer on the second page of the 267-page guidance document. "Rather, the sources of authority and requirements for addressing subsurface vapor intrusion are the relevant statutes and regulations. Decisions regarding a particular situation should be made based upon statutory and regulatory authority" (emphasis added).

"State regulators, as the EPA guidance document says, should not rely on guidance documents to adjust allowable levels of chemicals in Missouri," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "The issue is guidance documents are issued by Washington bureaucrats and do not receive legislative review, hearings or input from the public. Guidance may be helpful in the absence of federal statutes and regulations, but should not be used when regulations and statutes are in place or when guidance could result in additional costs or regulation of Missouri businesses.

"We believe SB 918 will prevent the DNR from relying on guidance documents to make changes to Missouri hazardous waste regulations by specifying that Missouri's environmental authority should rely only on federal and state statutes and regulations and not simply base actions on guidance that has not received adequate review or input from those favoring and opposing such changes", he said.

Senator Jill Schupp (D-24) led the initial discussion against the bill and was joined in her effort by Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-17), Sen. Greg Razer (D-7), Sen. Steven Roberts (D-5), Sen. Brian Williams (D-14) and Sen. Doug Beck (D-1).

While the initial debate focused on the senators' issues with the subject of the bill, Sen. Steven Roberts read an analysis of an entirely different bill on a completely different topic by the Sierra Club. In fact, Sen. Roberts appeared to not realize the document he was reading did not apply to SB 918 as he read another document on that subject that also had no relation to SB 918 at all.

Debate/filibuster on the bill continues at the time of this posting. We will keep you posted of any developments.

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