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Obama pick for U.S. Chemical Safety Board has strong industry ties

If confirmed, Meidl would bring CSB to full complement of members

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
November 28, 2016

Credit: Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Photo of Rachel Meidl
Credit: Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Rachel A. Meidl was nominated by President Barack Obama earlier this month to serve on the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

Meidl is currently deputy associate administrator for policy & programs in the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) at the Department of Transportation, a position she has held for a year.

From 2012 to 2015, she was director of regulatory affairs for the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade association.

As an industry advocate, Meidl was frequently at odds with CSB safety recommendations. For instance, in her comments on proposed regulations that had been advanced by CSB, she opposed application of inherently safer technologies and overhauls of federal regulations on process safety management and industrial facility risk management. She also argued against greater regulation of highly reactive chemicals.

CSB Chair Vanessa Sutherland is also a former official at PHMSA, a 600-employee agency that regulates the transportation of oil, natural gas, and other hazardous materials.

According to the White House, Meidl’s past experience includes several environmental health and safety positions at the University of California, San Diego. She began her career in 1997 as a contract manager and chemist at Clean Harbors Environmental Services.

If confirmed by the Senate, Meidl would bring the board to its full complement of five members for the first time since September 2011.

Her name is among 20 nominees for whom the president hopes to gain Senate approval in the waning days of his Administration.


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