Trump’s Pick to Lead EPA Supported Changes to Chemicals Law

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

By Pat Rizzuto

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency backed a strong chemical law during the negotiations that led to this year’s amendment of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Scott Pruitt supported the agency’s review of chemical risks and the effects on workers and children, and state regulation of chemicals—all provisions of the recently amended commercial chemicals law.

The new law “will ensure that new and existing chemicals, including those grandfathered under the Toxics Substances Control Act receive an EPA safety review. Such review will strengthen the standard for the public health and our environment,” wrote Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, in an April 9, 2015, letter to Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

The law “guarantees protection of the most vulnerable by placing emphasis on the effects of exposure to chemicals on infants, children, pregnant women, workers and the elderly,” wrote Pruitt.

“Though I have challenged the EPA on various issues, I believe the agency, within the boundaries of its authorities provided by Congress, serves a valuable mission to protect human health and preserve the environment,” Pruitt wrote.

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. No. 114-182) went into effect June 22 after years of negotiations.

TSCA Not a Target

Dimitrios Karakitsos, who served as the senior Republican staff member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and helped negotiate the Lautenberg Act prior to joining Holland & Knight LLP in Washington, D.C., told Bloomberg BNA “I think there is a kind of intentional misconception of Republicans that they want no regulations. That’s absolutely false.”

The incoming administration has objected to the EPA’s ozone, waters of the U.S. and climate regulations where it strayed from its core mission, he said.

“TSCA is not on the list of things they have gone after,” Karakitsos said. “I think the new administration would want to shape that policy rather than kill it before it goes forward.”

Industry’s Views Will Matter

Pruitt’s letter illustrates that the politics surrounding the amended chemicals law will be different than the politics surrounding the EPA’s greenhouse gas and certain other regulations, Judah Prero, an attorney in the Washington D.C. offices of Sidley Austin LLP, told Bloomberg BNA.

“I don’t think this particular program will be targeted for significant change,” Prero said. “You’re not going to see attacks on this program like greenhouse gases or other issues,” he said.

Prero said “what we’ve seen so far from the Trump transition team is a desire to reach out to industry and to factor in industry’s concerns to a greater degree than has been the case under the current administration.”

“Industry may find a door that’s slightly more open than it was before,” Prero said.

That doesn’t mean industry will get everything it wants, he said. “EPA will want to do this right,” he said.

The agency will strive to make the chemicals program as robust as it can, Prero said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington, D.C. at prizzuto@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

Scott Pruitt's letter backing the Lautenberg Act is available at http://src.bna.com/kX1.

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Request Environment & Energy Report