Backyard Talk

Senator Lautenberg– A Hero

The passing today of Senator Lautenberg leaves a tremendous void on Capitol Hill. His passing will be felt for decades. He was a very courageous man, willing to take big risks and work tirelessly for issues he cared about. I met him for the first time when discussing Right-To-Know and Superfund. He was the “father of the Right –To-Know” laws while I’m often referred to as the “mother of Superfund . . . Frank and I go way back.

I think in his lasting legacy, is the bill he introduced to protect everyone from chemicals in their environment and products. The Safe Chemicals Act he authored is visionary and by far the most meaningful legislation to reform TSCA. As the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the regulation of toxic chemicals, Senator Lautenberg held hearings and introduced his legislation which placed the burden on chemical companies to provide data to the EPA so that Americans can be assured the chemicals they are exposed to safe before they are sold and used throughout the country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released principles for reform that closely parallel Senator Lautenberg’s legislation.

Today, I worry about who is going to bring that leadership, willingness to take huge risks and support other champion colleagues like Senator Boxer as they try to move protective policy through the senate. Senator Lautenberg was respected by all sides and was able to have meaningful conversations and at times debates on issues with friends and foes.

I remember like it was yesterday when medical waste and plastic debris washed up on the shore line in New York and New Jersey. Senator Lautenberg took the lead to ban ocean dumping of sewage and plastics, and changed federal laws to get companies to use stronger “double-hulled tankers” to prevent oil spills. He also passed vital laws that have made our air, water and land dramatically cleaner. He was a strong advocate for addressing climate change, reducing carbon pollution and putting a priority on renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal and other sources.

Senator Lautenberg was a hero, a visionary and someone I could always count on to work toward protecting people and our environment from toxic chemicals in every way. Thank you Frank, may you rest in peace knowing that you were loved, respected and that we will continue to carry on your visionary work.