WASHINGTON-Major changes are being debated in various federal environmental regulations, but don't expect much to happen. That's the word from speakers at the Rubber Manufacturers Association Environmental, Safety and Health Conference.
They believe passage of significant environmental legislation is unlikely in 1996, this being an election year..
``Environmental issues are a wedge between Republicans and Democrats,'' said Paul Harper, director of environmental affairs and safety for Eagle-Picher Industries Inc. ``Neither side wants to cave in because it will just make the other side look good.
``As we get closer to the election, it's unlikely anyone can say their side did anything meaningful,'' the company official said.
The environmental bill with the best chance of passage is reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to Robert Clark, director of the Water Supply and Water Resources Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Risk Management Laboratory.
This reauthorization has the Clinton administration's backing and strong bipartisan support, Mr. Clark said. Among other things, the bill will focus contaminant regulation on risk and frequency of occurrence, and require cost-benefit analysis before any standard is issued.
Superfund is the environmental legislation most in need of change, and it is the one in which change is least certain, said James Vines, general counsel for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.
``Superfund as originally enacted lacked most of the facets of American procedural law, and Congress did that deliberately,'' Mr. Vines said.