Secret White House Review Paralyzes Chemical Safety
An EPA initiative to protect American consumers from toxic chemicals, especially endocrine disruptors, has run into a brick wall put up by the Obama White House at the urging of the chemical industry. While the law requires information and arguments on which federal regulations are based to be open and on the record, back-room review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) allows special interest groups to subvert those regulations in secret.
In 2009, during her first year in office, former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that EPA would establish a "chemicals of concern" list for special regulatory attention using its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The list, as eventually proposed by EPA, included a number of chemicals common in consumer products that have been controversial because of the potential for endocrine disruption — including bisphenol A, phthalates, and flame-retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
Reporter Jim Morris at the Center for Public Integrity wrote May 13, 2013, that OMB had been sitting on EPA's proposed "chemicals of concern" list for three whole years. The executive order that authorizes OMB to sandbag regulations specifically requires OMB to make its decision on them within four months at most.
- "'Chemicals of Concern' List Still Wrapped in OMB Red Tape," Center for Public Integrity, May 13, 2013, by Jim Morris.
- "Former EPA Climate Adviser Rips Obama Over Environmental Regulations," Mother Jones, April 4, 2013, by Kate Sheppard.
- Previous Stories: SEJ WatchDogs of April 24, 2013, and April 10, 2013.