Earlier this week Sen. Roberts (R,KS) introduced S 3529, the General Duty Clarification Act of 2012. This is essentially a companion bill to HR 6345; a bill that was introduced by Rep. Pompeo (R,KS). As I noted in that earlier blog post, these bills are intended to make it more difficult for the EPA Administrator from using the General Duty clause of the Clean Air Act to require high-risk chemical facilities to use substitute chemicals or processes as has been suggested by many activists.
A companion bill allows both branches of Congress to work on the same bill at the same time to potentially reduce how long it will take it to complete the consideration process. I called this ‘essentially a companion bill’ because the language in the two bills is not strictly identical. There are two minor, non-substantive wording changes; one in §2(a)(1)(B)(i) (some wording is moved into two new subparagraphs) and the other in §2(b) (a descriptive phrase is moved to the end of the sentence). Neither change should have any impact on the progress of these two bills.
Neither of these bills will receive any consideration before the election. If Romney wins, there will be no need for these bills to be considered; he would never allow his EPA to enforce such an action. If Obama wins there will be an attempt to pass these bills in the lame duck session as his EPA might consider such an attempt in his second term. Or it might not, there is certainly a mixed environmental agenda in the Obama Administration.
The House could certainly pass HR 6345, but the Senate will never see either bill make it to consideration by the Committee on Environment and Public Works, much less than to the floor for a vote. All of that could, of course, change next session depending on the results of the election.