Senate Regulatory Bill Would Block Public Health Protections

WASHINGTON ––Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) today introduced legislation that would cripple the government’s ability to protect people from dirty air, contaminated food, polluted waters and other serious health threats.  The House passed a version of the bill, the so-called Regulatory Accountability Act, in January.

The following is a statement by Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, followed by those of two residents of Ohio.  

“This bill would tilt the scales in favor of polluters at the public’s expense. It would make it virtually impossible to safeguard the public from dirty air, unsafe drinking water and other health threats,” said Slesinger.

“We need more, and stronger, protections—not fewer,'' said Jeff Napier, a resident of Guilford Township, Ohio, whose mother died from salmonella poisoning after eating contaminated peanut butter. “Nobody should ever lose a loved one this way.”  Napier and his family want Congress to strengthen food protection laws.

“It’s time for Congress to protect us—not corporations that care mostly about making a big profit,'' said Robin Tucker, who lives outside Cleveland, Ohio. “If a proposal like this one became law, there would be more people like me and my family.” Tucker's father died as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos, a deadly carcinogen.

The bill would make it all but impossible to put in place protections that could avert future tragedies like those that struck the Napier and Tucker families.

Napier and Tucker are in Washington today and Thursday to urge Congress to reject the Regulatory Accountability Act and other measures to eviscerate countless, decades-old public health safeguards and to block new safeguards. 

The House has already passed several bills that would undermine or destroy the regulatory system, and President Trump’s executive order requiring at least two rules to be eliminated for each new one would also raise major barriers to protecting the public.  NRDC, along with other groups, has sued to block that order, arguing that it is unconstitutional.

Napier and Tucker will be joined by members of five other families, from Missouri and West Virginia, at an NRDC briefing 9 a.m. Thursday to discuss how their loved ones were harmed by exposure to unsafe food and toxic chemicals.

If you are interested in speaking with them today or attending the briefing, please contact Elizabeth Heyd.


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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.