Progress unlikely in Congress

by Anant Naik

January of last year was marred by fear and uncertainty for those living near the Elk River in West Virginia, where a chemical spill had contaminated the water and raised serious concerns about how chemical wastes in the city were being disposed of. Local politicians and community members also faced an emerging conundrum âÄî chemical companies had become an essential aspect of local economies. Although the Elk River spill was deemed innocuous later on, the communityâÄôs concerns were important enough for Congress to address this summer through a proposed update of the Toxic Substances Control Act. This is an important move for communities run by the hubris of chemical refineries. Although certainly companies should have the liberty to produce freely in our economy, there ought to be specific restrictions that stop them from harming local communities and prevent catastrophes from occurring. Congress should prioritize this update for an important reason. Cleaning up spills is incredibly expensive and eventually becomes economically unviable. It becomes a cost to health services, and it also creates productivity shortfalls. But many argue that the proposed changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act are insignificant, saying that they donâÄôt truly remove the important problems with this law. This has led many people to become skeptical of CongressâÄôs ability to bring meaningful change. It also presents Congress with a great opportunity to make a bold move supporting the health of American citizens. However, with a divided Congress thatâÄôs looking to make headway on elections, progress seems like a very unlikely outcome.