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Press Releases :: February 7, 2007

House Passes Bill to Help Communities Clean Up Methamphetamine

Legislation designed to stem the scourge of methamphetamine (meth) in local communities was approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We have a duty to protect innocent families not only from the criminals who make and use this illegal drug, but also from the aftereffects of that crime," said the bill’s author, House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

H.R. 365, the Methamphetamine Remediation Act of 2007 - which passed the House today - requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop model, voluntary, health-based clean-up guidelines for use by states and localities with the goal of making sure the sites of former meth labs are safe and livable.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reported seizing roughly 12,500 methamphetamine labs in 2005 alone.  The chemicals used in making this extremely addictive drug are highly toxic and can infuse the walls, carpet and furniture of any house, apartment, hotel room or dwelling in which the drug was made.  This pollution can impact the health of unsuspecting families who later inhabit the dwelling by exposing them to dangerous residual toxins with potentially devastating long-term affects.

"Meth production and use is rampant in my home state of Tennessee and in other states across the country.  I’m glad my colleagues have joined me today in working to assist local communities in clearing it out and cleaning it up," Gordon said.

The legislation also authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to initiate a research program to develop meth detection equipment for field use.  Such equipment will help local law enforcement and first-responders detect active meth labs faster and assist in measuring contamination levels.  The legislation also requires a study by the National Academy of Sciences on the long-term health impacts on children rescued from meth labs and on first-responders.

The bill has been endorsed by numerous national organizations including the National Sheriff’s Association, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Realtors.

The bill was reported by the House Committee on Science and Technology on January 24, 2007.  Chairman Gordon first introduced the bill in the 109th Congress (H.R. 798).  It passed both the House and Senate, but failed to complete the process before time expired in the 109th session.

The consensus bill reintroduced in the 110th session contains two changes from the original – (1) it moves responsibility for oversight of the program from the Assistant Secretary of the Office of R&D at EPA to the EPA Administrator, and (2) the funding and authorization levels have been slightly reduced.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The House today also approved H. Res. 72 authored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL), Recognizing the work and accomplishments of Mr. Britt `Max' Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Prediction Center upon his retirement.

The Science and Technology Committee reported H. Res. 72 on January 31, 2007.

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