By Daniel Rosenberg, Natural Resources Defense Council
When it comes to protecting the public from cancer-causing chemicals, Andy Wheeler, EPA’s Acting Administrator is afraid of commitment. The “action plan” to address PFAS chemicals—released by the Agency today in an effort to stem the rising tide of scrutiny and criticism (and oversight)—offers little if any concrete commitments to take action.
Wheeler and his team of former (and future) industry lobbyists have slapped together a public relations document that shows the Trump Administration has no intention of taking timely action to protect the public.
For example, in its section on TSCA-related activities, the Plan simply recites what the Agency has already been doing, and not doing. It will continue to “review” the Significant New Use Rule that was proposed in 2015, but never finalized. That rule would require notice from manufacturers and importers of some PFAS for new uses—including uses in products (articles in TSCA parlance).
It may propose a supplemental rule, sometime, and it may issue a final rule sometime after that, but, no guarantee, no urgency. Wheeler, Assistant Administrator for Toxics Alex Dunn (as well as Deputy AA Nancy Beck) and the rest are just stringing us along.
I’d wager a box of your favorite chocolates that there will be no final SNUR for existing PFAS—certainly none that meaningfully restricts new uses—in the next two years.
Similarly, for new chemicals, the “Action Plan” simply recites—in a truncated and misleading fashion—what the Agency has been doing, which is approving new PFAS, sometimes with testing requirements and restrictions included (although likely little if any of either during the Trump reign). The premise (fed by the chemical industry) is that the “short-chain” PFAS being approved are less toxic than the older “long-chain” PFAS, an assumption that the emerging science is rapidly calling into question.
The Action Plan, not surprisingly, makes no mention of how the Trump Administration is implementing the TSCA new chemicals program in a variety of ways that favor chemical industry applicants over protecting the public, in violation of the law’s requirements. But that’s a topic for future blogs and lawsuits.
As far as requiring the reporting of emissions and disposal of PFAS under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)? The Trump EPA will “consider” it, but there’s no passion there either.
It isn’t that Andy Wheeler and the other Trump minions at EPA aren’t capable of devotion, it’s just that they aren’t now or ever going to fall for the public, mere “water drinkers.” Wheeler, like Scott Pruitt before him, along with Nancy Beck, David Dunlap, Michael Dourson and other past and current EPA officials are passionately committed to serving the needs and fulfilling the desires of chemical companies—they ️❤ Dow, DuPont, “Chemours” and Monsanto.
They love chemical companies so passionately that they’re committed to stalling protective action for as long as possible, because their solemn vow to those companies is that they will not regulate any chemicals for as long as possible, as long as they aren’t forced to do so, by Congress or the Courts.
And for the rest of us, that’s heart breaking.