Second-hand smoke & Teflon: The bogus EPA we’ll get from Trump’s Latest Pick
Donald Trump has a knack for nominating officials who would undermine the very laws they’re supposed to uphold. His latest pick is Michael Dourson, a corporate conspirator who would lead EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
Dourson would be the third horseman of Trump’s environmental apocalypse, with the power to destroy the regulations that keep us safe from toxic chemicals. If approved, he’d join the EPA’s director Scott Pruitt, whose donors include corporations that the EPA is supposed to regulate, and Nancy Beck, a chemical industry lobbyist who now heads the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. Together, they’ll wreak havoc on our health and climate, let pollution run rampant, and put our most vulnerable at risk, especially children and pregnant women. And worst of all, it would be under the guise of the one agency that’s supposed to protect our health and environment.
Dourson’s history with the industry is so conflicted that we believe we can — and must — block his nomination.
His coziness with industry stretches back a long time. Dourson previously worked at EPA until 1995, when he left to form his own company, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), a nonprofit that he saw as filling a gap in EPA’s processes. Where EPA might be slow (from the industry’s perspective) to review and approve a chemical for use, TERA could perform a risk assessment much more quickly, and put together panels and conferences full of industry “experts” to promote their findings.
TERA’s work has been substantially funded by the industry, and unsurprisingly, its findings tend to be industry-friendly. Research by the Environmental Defense Fund has found that TERA’s studies and findings on dozens of chemicals were paid for by corporations and chemical industry trade groups. Among Dourson’s alarming clients, he worked for the tobacco industry to downplay the effects of secondhand smoke, for the chemical industry to bless Teflon, and for the Koch brothers to dismiss the health concerns related to petroleum coke.
If his nomination is approved, Dourson would oversee all those chemicals and more. Among his first tasks would be to overhaul and implement the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the major law that controls the regulation and approval of chemicals. He would have the power to lower the bar for approvals, and could green-light a host of toxic chemicals. The toxics we’re most worried about include:
- Perchlorate — a chemical used in rocket fuel, explosives, and sometimes fertilizers that can disrupt the thyroid and is considered a “likely human carcinogen” by EPA.
- PFOA — these chemicals make up Teflon and Scotchguard, and which Dourson has previously worked to clear for the chemical industry. In addition to its chemical cousin, GenX, PFOA has recently been found in the Cape Fear river in Wilmington, NC and residents are looking to the EPA to clean their drinking water.
- Chlorpyrifos — a pesticide which has poisoned farmworkers and can damage our children’s brains, even at current levels found on food.
- Fracking chemicals — the hundreds of chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing cause a host of harmful health effects, and fracking poses major risks in pollution and climate change.
- Lead — which poses serious developmental risks to children even at low levels.
- Asbestos — commonly used in building materials, asbestos is a known carcinogen. EPA Director Scott Pruitt has been friendly toward asbestos use.
These chemicals, along with the thousands of others that Dourson would regulate, have been clearly connected to cancer, delayed mental and physical development, lowered IQ, and major reproductive harm. Worse, the effects of these chemicals and their manufacture tends to disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. Dourson’s nomination is more evidence for how little Trump cares about people’s health.
Dourson would be a disaster for our health, the environment, and the climate. But he can be stopped. And it’s up to us to stop him. If you’d like to join us in resisting this bogus nominee, sign the petition and urge your members of Congress to oppose Dourson.