S. 1961 and H.R. 4024: Legislative Responses to a Chemical Storage Facility Spill [May 2, 2014]   [open pdf - 352KB]

"In January 2014, an estimated 10,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) and other chemicals leaked from a bulk aboveground storage tank at a chemical storage facility located upstream from the intake pipes of the water treatment plant serving Charleston, WV, and nearby counties. In the wake of the resulting contamination of this large public water supply, Congress has undertaken oversight and is considering legislative options. The chemical storage tank at the center of the West Virginia incident appears to not have been subject to regulation under various federal or state laws aimed at protecting water resources from chemical releases. Oversight hearings by House and Senate committees began within a month to review the event, and to identify policy issues regarding the federal and state roles in regulating chemical facilities and whether legislation might be warranted. In further response to the spill, S. 1961, the Chemical Safety and Preparedness Act, was introduced on January 27, 2014, and H.R. 4024, the Ensuring Access to Clean Water Act of 2014, was introduced on February 10, 2014. This report describes and analyzes H.R. 4024 and S. 1961, as ordered reported. The bills share a number of broadly similar provisions--both would direct states or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish programs to prevent and respond to releases from chemical storage facilities (H.R. 4024) or tanks (S. 1961) located near drinking water sources--but they take different approaches to doing so: S. 1961 would make programmatic changes by amending the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), while H.R. 4024 would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA)."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43441
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