Acting EPA Chemicals Chief to Retire, Leaving Leadership Vacuum

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By Tiffany Stecker

The top official in the EPA’s chemicals and pesticides office will retire Aug. 24, according to an email obtained by Bloomberg BNA.

Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, acting assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 38 years, joining the chemical safety office fresh out of law school. She also served as principal deputy assistant administrator for the office during the Obama administration, and as director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, where she led the agency’s chemical safety program under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

“It is hard to imagine a better opportunity to serve the American public, pursue a vitally important mission, learn an enormous amount, and work with incredibly smart, dedicated and collegial people,” Cleland-Hamnett wrote to colleagues in a July 10 email.

Her departure comes as almost all of the agency’s top leadership posts remain vacant. The Trump administration has only nominated one assistant administrator—Susan Bodine, for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. She has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Next-in-command in the office are deputy assistant administrators Nancy Beck and Louise Wise. Beck was hired in April after serving as the American Chemistry Council’s senior director for regulatory science policy. Wise has worked at the EPA since 1984, according to a LinkedIn profile.

The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is overseeing last year’s legislative reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act, an effort to tighten the regulation of new and existing chemicals on the market. The EPA released three news rules June 22 to implement the new law, establishing its first-ever, comprehensive regulatory strategy to evaluate—and regulate, if needed—chemicals in commerce.

The EPA confirmed the retirement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at

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