WASHINGTON – Under the direction of top political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency, career scientists were told to “limit” chemical safety assessments, according to a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.
The GAO audit was requested by Senator Tom Carper (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Carper asked GAO to investigate how EPA is implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act and its Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS, program.
According to the GAO investigation, in June 2018, the office of then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “told IRIS officials that they could not release any IRIS-associated documentation” without formal permission from top political leadership from the chemicals safety division at EPA. By October, the same career staff were informed they must cut back on the number of chemical safety assessments.
Until January, Nancy Beck – the former chemical industry official – was in charge of chemical policy at the agency.
“The GAO report is further evidence the Trump administration and Administrator Wheeler are working to cook the books on behalf of the chemical industry,” said EWG legislative attorney Melanie Benesh. “Up until 2017 the agency’s mission was to protect public health from toxic chemicals and other contaminants. But, as the GAO report describes, actively slowing down chemical safety reviews, silencing career scientists and ignoring main pathways of exposure to dangerous chemicals is now a typical day’s work at the Trump EPA.”
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