Democrats Demand Answers from EPA on Dr. Nancy Beck
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats sent letters to both Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. today demanding responses to overdue oversight requests and requesting a formal investigation into former top chemical industry lobbyist Dr. Nancy Beck’s role in dramatically reshaping the agency’s efforts to regulate hazardous chemicals. The letter to Administrator Pruitt follows up on previous requests for information and documents outlining Dr. Beck’s role at EPA, which were ignored by Administrator Pruitt but printed by The New York Times in an explosive report last week.
The letters were signed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Vice Ranking Member Kathy Castor (D-FL).
“In March, we requested that you initiate an investigation into the protections in place at the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent conflicts of interest and unethical abuses of power,” the members wrote to EPA Inspector General Elkins. “We write today to renew that request, with a focus on the work of Dr. Nancy Beck related to the interests of her previous employer, the American Chemistry Council.”
In their letter to Administrator Pruitt, the Democrats expressed deep concern over Dr. Beck’s implementation of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) given her obvious conflicts of interest and recent actions to rewrite EPA rulemakings to reflect views of the chemical industry, in some cases word-for-word revisions mirroring industry requests. The letter also underscored Administrator Pruitt’s continued disregard for transparency and continued failure to respond to Congressional oversight responsibilities.
“Americans deserve an EPA that protects human health and the environment in an honest and transparent manner,” the Democrats wrote to Administrator Pruitt. “We therefore request that you immediately provide the documents requested in June and appear before the Committee to explain this blatant disregard for conflicts of interest and the public interest.”
As part of the Inspector General’s investigation, the members are raising concerns about a June 8, 2017 memo from the EPA General Counsel’s office authorizing Dr. Beck to work on matters directly involving her previous employer the American Chemistry Council. The members’ are asking the Inspector General to review the memo and answer several questions, including:
- Were all applicable regulations, policies, and procedures followed for the June 8, 2017 Office of General Counsel determination?
- Did Dr. Beck participate in activities affecting her former employer before receiving the June 8 memo?
- Did Dr. Beck have authorization to rewrite certain chemical standards to reflect, in some cases, word for word, the chemical industry’s proposed regulatory changes?
A copy of the letter to Administrator Pruitt is available here.
A copy of the letter to EPA Inspector General Elkins is available here.