The Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), along with over 100 other groups including the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, strongly opposes the nomination of Michael Dourson to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Dourson has a history of serving the interests of big business and industry, including working for a tobacco front group, the Center for Indoor Air Research, to downplay the effects of secondhand smoke, and working for a Koch Industries subsidiary to show no adverse health impacts to residents from a neighboring petroleum coke facility, when research by the city of Chicago found the opposite.
Most concerning to Vermonters may be Dourson’s work for DuPont, which produced the chemical PFOA. This is the contaminant recently discovered in private drinking water wells in N. Bennington and other areas around Vermont. In 2002, Dourson led a team that recommended a safety level for PFOA that was thousands of time less protective than a later assessment by EPA and Vermont’s own current standard.
“Mr. Dourson’s record demonstrates that he is a friend to the tobacco and chemical industries, but he is no friend to millions of Americans who count on products to be safe and drinking water to be clean,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG.
Mr. Dourson has been nominated to head the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He appeared today in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. VPIRG and over 100 other groups called on senators to reject Dourson’s nomination.
“What’s so insidious about this newest Trump nominee, is his false appearance of impartiality. When the likes of DuPont tout him as the best person for helping greenlight their toxic chemicals, we’ve got a serious conflict of interest issue. Not just in overseeing certain chemicals, but in overseeing anything at the EPA,” said Ansje Miller, Policy Director at CEH.
“In 2016, Congress gave EPA stronger tools to protect public health from the hazards of toxic chemicals. The person who runs that program has to put public health first. Unfortunately, this controversial nominee has a record of putting the chemical industry first. Michael Dourson is the wrong person for the job of running EPA’s toxics program,” said Liz Hitchcock, Government Affairs Director, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
Coming right after the appointment of Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry lobbyist, this decision casts yet another shadow over the EPA’s ability to implement the updated Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) and ensure that the chemicals in our products and environment are safe. Rather than draining the swamp, the Trump Administration is creating a ripe environment for toxic chemicals to flood the marketplace and endanger the nation’s health.
Over 100 groups across the country have petitioned the Committee to reject Michael Dourson’s nominations. Download a copy of the letter, signatories and quotes here.