Rachel’s Action Network (RAN) members are dedicated to working for a healthier, more sustainable world and are vocal advocates for policies that protect the environment. Some of our recent policy priorities include:
Chemical Safety Reform
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was intended to give the Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate toxic chemicals, just doesn’t work. Since TSCA was passed in 1976, the EPA has required testing on just over 200 of the 62,000 chemicals that were “grandfathered” in under the law. TSCA does not require chemical companies to prove that the chemicals they make are safe before they end up in products. In fact, manufacturers are allowed to keep basic safety information secret—making it hard for the average consumer to make informed choices. We need strong legislation that will protect vulnerable populations, allows the EPA to test chemicals for safety, and will not preempt states’ authority to pass stronger regulations on chemicals.
Eighty percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for food-animal use, not to treat sick people. Antibiotics are widely used to compensate for overcrowding and poor sanitation at the industrial operations where most food animals are produced, and to speed animal growth. These practices are eroding the effectiveness of life-saving medicines and fueling a public health crisis. Instead of withdrawing approvals, the FDA has proposed a voluntary process to end antibiotic use to speed animal growth. The agency has refused to release information needed to evaluate this approach, and has ignored the rampant misuse of antibiotics in food animals. The Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act in the Senate and the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act in the House would prevent the overuse of antibiotics in livestock and protect public health.
The Keystone XL Pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas refineries on the gulf coast. Extracting tar sands oil requires much more energy and water—and generates three times more carbon pollution—than drilling for conventional oil. Furthermore, the pipeline is unlikely to make America less reliant on other foreign oil sources, will result in negligible job creation, and carries the threat of increased risk of oil spills. It will have a significant impact on our climate and it is simply not in the national interest.
EPA and the Clean Air Act
The EPA and the Clean Air Act protect Americans from airborne pollutants that are hazardous to human health and the environment. However, Congress may use the Congressional Review Act to disapprove an EPA rule and prevent its implementation. While Congressional review is an important mechanism to ensure administrative responsibility and accountability, it should not be used to threaten the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has been successfully using the Clean Air Act as its main tool for protecting our health from dangerous air pollution for over forty years.