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EPA chemicals program under scrutiny

by Britt E. Erickson
November 13, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 45

Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee are urging Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) to hold a hearing related to EPA’s oversight of toxic chemicals. The request follows an investigation by the New York Timesthat found the top official of EPA’s chemicals program, Deputy Assistant Administrator Nancy Beck, revised the agency’s rules for prioritizing and evaluating the risks of chemicals during her first few weeks on the job. Beck joined EPA in May after a five-year stint at the American Chemistry Council, a chemical manufacturers trade group. Many of the changes that Beck made to the rules were requested by ACC, according to the Times investigation. Environmental groups are raising concerns about Beck’s handling of three other rules proposed by the Obama Administration. Those proposals would ban certain uses of trichloroethylene, methylene chloride, and N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone. In a Nov. 7 letter to EPA Acting General Counsel and Ethics Officer Kevin Minoli, the groups claim that Beck’s involvement could violate “federal conflict of interest and impartiality requirements, as illustrated by Dr. Beck’s troubling history as an advocate for chemical companies opposed to the proposed bans.”


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