The republican-ledSenate released a 2018 spending bill on Nov. 20 that aims to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Risk Information System program, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The organization does not make regulations but provides toxicity information used by state, federal, tribal and other bodies in their decision-making processes. According to the organization's webpage, IRIS chemical assessments are the preferred source of information used within the EPA.
Additionally, the EDF noted IRIS reviews are used in advising cleanup efforts at Superfund and other hazardous sites, determining health and safety risks from air emissions and establishing standards on clean drinking water, among other things.
"Bill would allow the EPA to cut an additional $68 million from other agency programs."
The Royal Society of Chemistry reported that an explanatory statement accompanying the bill said the resources being cut from IRIS would be put towards implementing an updated Toxic Substances Control Act. This would give the EPA more authority in regulating new and existing chemicals.
Some Senate Democrats were worried the proposal would place IRIS's scientific duties on the TSCA, which it would be ill-equipped to handle because it was not designed to take care of those responsibilities.
Democrats also noted the bill would allow the EPA to cut an additional $68 million from other agency programs without restriction. It would also provide leeway for the Trump Administration to sever ties with a quarter of the EPA's staffed public health officials and scientists.
In September, Republicans in the House Representatives Science,Spaceand Technology committee argued during a hearing whether IRIS should exist. They claimed the science provided by the organization was duplicative and conflicted with other chemical safety information.
The bill was met with some resistance from senators, according to an official release from the Committee on Appropriations.
"I can't look past the deep and damaging cuts to the EPA budget in this bill that put public health at risk," said Senator Tom Udall, ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, in Senate Committee on Appropriations release. "And I can't ignore that it takes aim at the laws that protect our environment and our communities."
The bill still requires validation in both chambers of Congress before being brought to the White House for potential enactment.
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