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EPA Staffers and Top Democrats Wary of Former Chemical Lobbyist Nancy Beck in Leadership Position

— June 27, 2017

The Trump administration is purportedly irking senior staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency with its appointment of Nancy Beck, a former industrial lobbyist, to a top position.

Although the government recently released a list of some of the most important chemical-safety rules in decades, the changes were purportedly made under the supervision of EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Nancy Beck.

Beck, writes Politico, was formerly among the top chemical industry lobbyists in the United States. Up until April, she was the ‘senior director of regulatory policy at the American Chemistry Council.’

Scott Pruitt
EPA chief Scott Pruitt frequently faced off against the agency he now heads while serving as Attorney General of Oklahoma. AP.

The American Chemistry Council is, in spite of a science-friendly-sounding name, among the largest lobbying groups for the chemical industry.

Under Beck’s direction, the agency will be limited in its ability to review and restrict the use of ‘thousands of potentially hazardous substances.’ Complaints filed by EPA staffers in internal memos were apparently available for review to Politico, which discussed and analyzed some of the gripes emanating from the agency.

The memo said that the limitations Beck helped guide through could “present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment.”

The rules, which are a revision of last year’s update of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, have long needed a revamp.

While the original act was groundbreaking in the amount of bipartisan cooperation necessary for its passage, the bill blocked the EPA from regulating asbestos and other known toxic substances.

Politico’s reportage recorded Melanie Benesh [Correction: We originally referred to Melanie Benesh as Melanie Walsh.]  of the Environmental Working Group as saying that Beck is the “scariest Trump appointee you’ve never heard of.”

Benesh backed up her allegation by pointing to a 2009 report constructed by congressional Democrats, who accused Beck of ‘working to delay and undermine EPA’s chemical studies during her previous tenure at the OMB.’

Doubtlessly troubling to proponents of keeping American clean and green, the appointment shouldn’t be particularly surprising – Trump’s nominee and current head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, had sued the Environmental Protection Agency upwards of a dozen times as Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma.

In a letter to Pruitt, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), lead Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, argued that Beck’s appointment “has the potential to undermine the scientific integrity of EPA’s TSCA implementation and the consumer confidence we sought to build with a reformed TSCA.”

Pallone, Politico reports, is currently searching for information about Beck’s involvement with chemical rules and whether she should ethically be allowed to participating in the regulation of an industry she’s spent years championing.


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