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E&C Leaders Request Information from EPA About Troubling Reports in the New Chemical Review Program

Aug 17, 2021
Press Release
Whistleblowers Allege EPA for Years Downplayed the Dangers of New Chemicals & Exerted Inappropriate Interference in TSCA Risk Assessments

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan today to request information regarding reports of concerning irregularities in the Agency’s chemical review program.

According to recent allegations made by four whistleblowers — each a current or former staffer in EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) — the OCSPP has for many years downplayed the dangers of new chemicals and inappropriately interfered with risk assessments conducted pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

Further reports have described the interference alleging that OCSPP manipulated the review of dozens of chemicals in order to make the chemicals appear safer. EPA employees were reportedly pressured to downplay evidence of chemicals’ potential adverse effects such as cancer, birth defects, and neurological effects. The report also indicates EPA’s scientific staff were subject to retaliation.

“The Committee has a longstanding interest in ensuring EPA’s implementation of TSCA is based on sound science,” Pallone, DeGette, and Tonko wrote to Administrator Regan. “We also firmly believe EPA’s scientific staff must be able to perform their work of protecting human health and the environment free from inappropriate interference and retaliation. The allegations made by the four whistleblowers are troubling, and, if true, raise serious concerns about EPA’s implementation of TSCA and about protections for EPA employees.”

The chairs requested a briefing from EPA as well as written responses to issues raised by the whistleblowers, including the following:

  • Describe EPA’s understanding as to the veracity of the complaints raised by whistleblowers regarding interference in the chemical program. Explain what actions, if any, EPA has taken to look into these allegations.
  • Is EPA considering reevaluating any chemicals in light of concerns that their review process may have been subject to interference or that they may include precursors to PFAS? If so, describe the process and timeline for any reevaluation.
  • Does EPA have any ongoing or planned efforts to review and strengthen whistleblower protections at the Agency? If so, describe these efforts, including the EPA office responsible for these improvements and any associated timelines.

The full letter to Administrator Regan is available HERE.