The Ever-Revolving Door: Industry and the EPA

GR: The ‘revolving door’ between government and industry creates close ties that often weaken regulation of business activities. Here’s an example. The article below gives another well-documented example of this insidious problem within our government.

Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2017– “On August 20, the U.S. Senate was to have held a hearing on the Trump Administration’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for chemical safety, Michael L. Dourson, PhD. The hearing was abruptly postponed on August 19, with no reason offered, and has not yet been rescheduled.

“Dr. Dourson has spent a good deal of his career helping companies resist constraints on their use of potentially toxic compounds in consumer products. Critics, including former EPA officials, Congressional Democrats, and public health scientists say that these ties with the chemical industry, in particular, should keep him from becoming the country’s chief regulator of toxic chemicals.

“U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said, “Dr. Dourson’s consistent endorsement of chemical safety standards that not only match industry’s views, but are also significantly less protective than EPA and other regulators have recommended, raises serious doubts about his ability to lead those efforts. This is the first time anyone with such clear and extensive ties to the chemical industry has been [nominated] to regulate that industry.”

“Dr. Dourson is perhaps the most recent example of the “revolving door” phenomenon — the movement of people between roles as agency regulators or legislators, and positions in the industries that are affected by laws and regulations promulgated through those government roles. The door revolves in both directions, with folks leaving industry to join government, and vice versa. Critics say that this ready switching of roles creates unavoidable conflicts of interest and that those who do so have dubious ethical standing for undertaking the positions they seek. Indeed, ethics experts say that, if confirmed, Dr. Dourson’s work on behalf of industry could constitute significant conflicts of interest.

“Dr. Dourson’s professional history provides important context in which to consider his nomination. He did a turn at EPA from 1980 to 1994, starting as a staff toxicologist. By 1989, he headed a pesticides and toxics group, supervising scientists who support EPA’s regulatory work. In 1995, Dr. Dourson started his consulting group, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, or TERA, which has done contract work for chemical companies, producing research and reports that often “downplayed the health risks posed by their compounds.” — Source: Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog » Blog Archive The Ever-Revolving Door: Industry and the EPA

Coincidence or Collusion? Records Show EPA Slowed Glyphosate Review in Coordination With Monsanto

GR: The case for collusion looks stronger than the one for coincidence. This story makes one think of our lying president and the fear that the lies and corruption by our government will begin to seem normal and acceptable. We definitely need to drain the swamp, and I want to start seeing that Progressives include all the means by which private companies influence government in their platforms. What the story by Carey Gilliam, introduced below, shows is that for-profit businesses and the government employees/agencies they influence are willing to support deadly weed herbicides with little regard for human and ecosystem health. The EPA, USDA, and everyone involved needs to advocate safer means of weed control.

“Newly released government email communications show a persistent effort by multiple officials within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slow a separate federal agency’s safety review of Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide. Notably, the records demonstrate that the EPA efforts came at the behest of Monsanto, and that EPA officials were helpful enough to keep the chemical giant updated on their progress.

“The communications, most of which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, show that it was early 2015 when the EPA and Monsanto began working in concert to stall a toxicology review that a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was conducting on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicide products. The details revealed in the documents come as Monsanto is defending itself against allegations that it has tried to cover up evidence of harm with its herbicides.

“The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency within the CDC that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is charged with evaluating the potential adverse human health effects from exposures to hazardous substances in the environment. So it made sense for the ATSDR to take a look at glyphosate, which is widely used on U.S. farms, residential lawns and gardens, school playgrounds and golf courses. Glyphosate is widely used in food production and glyphosate residues have been found in testing of human urine.

“The ATSDR announced in February 2015 that it planned to publish a toxicological profile of glyphosate by October of that year. But by October, that review was on hold, and to this date no such review has yet been published.

“The documents reveal this was no accident, no bureaucratic delay, but rather was the result of a collaborative effort between Monsanto and a group of high-ranking EPA officials.” –Carey Gilliam (Continue reading: Collusion or Coincidence? Records Show EPA Slowed Glyphosate Review in Coordination With Monsanto.)

Pruitt’s EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Corrupt USDA

GR: Corrupt interaction between U. S. government agencies and pesticide manufacturers poisons people, pets, plants, and wildlife. This has been true in the past, but there is a looming flash flood release of toxic chemicals under Trump.

“Internal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Administrator Scott Pruitt has effectively relinquished the EPA’s oversight of pesticide safety to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) senior vice president of government affairs.

“More than 700 pages of emails and other records show that Pruitt and other EPA officials consulted closely with agribusiness interests and top officials at the USDA on the decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that has been shown to harm children’s brains at even very low levels, according to The New York Times.

“In response to the Times report, the EPA issued a statement Monday maintaining that Pruitt relied on the “USDA’s scientific concerns with methodology used by the previous administration” to go against the agency’s own scientists who had pushed for a full ban of the pesticide.

“The emails, on page 301, show that top political appointees made edits to the chlorpyrifos petition as it awaited Pruitt’s signature, in order to reverse the ban of the pesticide recommended by career EPA scientists.” –Environmental Working Group (Continue reading: Pruitt’s EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Agriculture Department).

EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

GR: Our government believes its responsibility is to corporations and not to citizens. We really need to find and elect politicians that do not hold this belief. Pesticides are destroying pollinators and all the plants and animals that depend upon them. How can an “environmental protection agency” approve their use? What this shows is how easily corporations buy our president and his minions.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris and President Donald Trump in February.

“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company’s toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

“According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the EPA boss met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel on March 9. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency’s own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.

“But EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman insisted to the AP that Pruitt and Liveris were only “briefly introduced” at the energy industry conference where both men were featured speakers.

“They did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” the spokeswoman said. “During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

[GR: Lying perhaps, but never mind; the pesticide needs to be banned.]

“According to the AP, Pruitt also attended a larger group meeting with two other Dow executives, but Bowman said they did not discuss the pesticide.

“The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Pesticide Action Network and Earthjustice sued the EPA just days after Pruitt’s decision to reverse the EPA’s proposed ban on chlorpyrifos.

“The move adds to the Trump administration’s growing roster of decisions informed by ‘alternative facts,'” the NRDC’s Nicole Greenfield wrote in a blog post about the lawsuit. “Nearly two decades’ worth of scientific studies—including analyses by Pruitt’s own agency—have documented the numerous risks this bug-killer poses to children and pregnant women.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics also sent a letter to Pruitt on Tuesday, urging the EPA to ban the pesticide and called the agency’s decision to allow its use a threat to children’s health.

“A lot has been reported about Dow’s seemingly close ties with Trump. The company donated $1 million to the presidential inauguration. Additionally, Liveris leads President Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. In February, Liveris received Trump’s pen after he signed the “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that the administration claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.” –Lorraine Chow (EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide)