Is This Where We Want States Rights? California Regulations Under Federal Fire
California has some strange ways to apply the law referred to. For instance most parking lots are posted with a carcinogen warning about cancer given the chemical nature of cars and what parking lots are made of. Or the fact that it would be illegal to drain drinking water into a storm drain. Sound crazy? Only until you see drinking water would likely be out of the allowable Ph range. Or a hazardous waste such as used polishing rouge in jewelry making is not only tightly regulated while in a hazardous form, but also after it has been processed into a non toxic form. Thing is that substance carries so much value the owners always treated it like carefully gold. Because it has gold in it!
OTOH we in California pioneered pollution regulations that improved all our lives. Caltrans has a history of advancing highway safety. Other states look to us here to tighten regulations for public safety.
So are we to allow the states rights we like or hew to the national standard?
Others look at this from a jurisdictional view. Many favor disallowing states rights give the history of racism in certain states and Jim Crow laws.
I tend to look at the pragmatics. Some of the California regulations are frankly being applied foolishly. Warnings so common as to be dismissed out of hand.
This issue flies a bit sideways to that political dialog.
Now some of those companies, banking on congressional gridlock and sympathetic Republican leaders in the House, are fighting back. And officials in Sacramento worry that some of the state’s landmark laws may be in danger.
At the top of their worry list is a measure with bipartisan support that would strengthen federal environmental laws on dangerous chemicals, but at the price of rolling back a pioneering California law that tries to protect consumers from the most toxic materials. State leaders are scrambling to fend off the bill, which they say is written so broadly that it also could undermine California’s clean water laws and its effort to combat global warming.
“We are alarmed,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. “We have programs in place that are very effective and have moved the marketplace to benefit not just California but the entire world. This … puts all that at risk.”
The U.S. government has the power to block the laws of California or any other state if the statutes have an impact on interstate commerce or otherwise interfere with federal authority. But Washington has tended to do that sparingly. Democrats there typically don’t have a problem with the state’s liberal policies, and Republicans have preferred to avoid infringing on states’ rights.