Carper: White House official worked to weaken PFAS protections
Sen. Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on April 17 asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to address new concerns and questions raised about the apparent efforts of Nancy Beck to weaken EPA’s proposed Significant New Use Rule, which is designed to restrict the uses of certain long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS, in products.
New documents and other information obtained by Carper’s office indicate that in her previous role as EPA’s deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and in her current role at the White House National Economic Council, Beck — President Donald Trump’s nominee to chair the Consumer Product Safety Commission — sought to make it more difficult for EPA to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to protect Americans from these harmful substances.
As Carper wrote in his letter, “A review of hundreds of pages of inter-agency documents, agency calendars, red-lined drafts of this rule and other information obtained by my office indicate that:
— While at EPA, Dr. Beck sought to weaken the supplemental proposed rule by urging for the adoption of a complicated and time-consuming analytic barrier to justify the finding mandated in the 2016 TSCA provisions that the ‘reasonable potential for exposure’ to a chemical from an article — i.e. a product — must exist before applying the law’s requirements to those articles. She did this even though EPA had told Congress at the time the 2016 TSCA revisions were being negotiated that EPA did not believe the new provisions would alter its ability to finalize this rule.
— After Dr. Beck left the EPA for the White House, she directed the reversal of the White House’s repeated conclusions that this proposed rule did not require White House or inter-agency review, presumably in order to assure her continued ability to direct the development of the supplemental proposed rule.
— Through months of inter-agency negotiations, involvement of political officials and extensive editing, and despite the apparent resistance of EPA, Dr. Beck succeeded in originating or directing the inclusion of provisions in the supplemental proposed rule that could, if finalized, result in violators of the rule being granted ‘safe harbor’ from enforcement, the exemption of some PFAS-containing products from being subject to the rule and the exclusion of data that describe the risk of exposure.”
In his letter, Carper described a timeline of Beck’s involvement in the weakening of the agency's proposed PFAS Significant New Use Rule, and asked Wheeler to place that timeline and attached documents into the public docket associated with the proposed rule. Carper urged Wheeler to ultimately resist the involvement of Beck or any political officials who sought to weaken the legal and scientific views of EPA experts.
The full letter is available at bit.ly/2VBo532.