WASHINGTON, D.C. Feb. 27, 2018 – Yesterday, it was announced that the Environmental Protection Agency is closing the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER). The program provides millions of dollars in grants each year, and through fellowships, studies the effects of chemicals on children’s health.
This closure is not the first time Trump’s EPA has stood by the chemical industry. Last year, EPA administrator Pruitt rejected a ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to reduced IQ, developmental delay and increased risk of learning disabilities in children. The EPA recently reversed restrictions on the use of this pesticide, called chlorpyrifos, shortly after meeting with officials from Dow. Trump nominated Michael Dourson to head the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution, the division that oversees the chemical industry. Dourson spent much of his professional career writing studies that undermine existing science and concerns about toxic chemicals calling for weaker regulations on chemicals like pesticides, and was previously paid by Dow Agrosciences to downplay safety concerns about chlorpyrifos. Dourson later withdrew his name from consideration for the position. Dow Chemical, the parent company of Dow Agrosciences, contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
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Before Pruitt’s number two, Bill Wehrum, started as EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), he helped obtain an 8-year amnesty period for power plants to avoid curbing their mercury and air toxics emissions. Last year, the EPA asked the DC circuit court to delay MATS, a rule that prevents coal-fired power plants from releasing heavy metals like mercury and arsenic into the environment, and is continuing its review of the rule. It is estimated that the 2015 rule would keep 1.4 billion pounds of toxic metals and other pollutants out of waterways each year.
In response, Sierra Club Melinda Pierce Federal Lobby and Advocacy Director released the following statement:
“By shutting the door on the research operation that keeps our kids safe from toxic chemicals all while making dangerous policy decisions that pump more chemicals into our air and water, Scott Pruitt is taking the health and safety of our families as seriously as playground games. From his failure to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, to his attacks on rules that cut mercury and arsenic in our water, to halting research that protects children from toxic threats, it’s clear that when it comes the health of our families, Scott Pruitt simply does not care.”