Seriously? Seriously! Chemical Industry Advocate to Oversee Chemical Regulation at the EPA


Earlier this month Dr. Nancy Beck, a former advocate for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), was appointed as the new Deputy Administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). This move creates a major conflict of interest between Dr. Beck’s long history of advocating against chemical regulations. This conflict of interest signals that the EPA, under Administrator Pruitt, is increasingly putting the interest of regulated industries ahead of protecting people and the environment.

Dr. Beck has spent the last 5 years opposing EPA’s safety regulations and scientific findings. While serving as the Senior Director of Regulatory Science Policy at the ACC, Beck consistently fought against rules that govern the use of harmful chemicals. These efforts were all geared towards protecting the financial interests of chemical giants. The ACC itself represents approximately 150 chemical companies that include DOW, DuPont, ExxonMobil, and Monsanto.

Within the EPA, the OCSPP is specifically responsible for assessing risks from chemicals and overseeing programs that prevent pollution and contamination. They work tirelessly to identify harmful chemicals and their potential risks to humans and the environment. Their conclusions drive the EPA’s policies regarding chemicals and their uses.

In the summer of 2016, the EPA passed the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This act delivers overdue amendments to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the nation’s central chemical management law. The Lautenberg Act was passed with the intention to reevaluate chemicals, create new risk standards, and increase transparency to the public. At the time of its passage we knew that the new law’s impact would depend on how it is administered by the EPA. We were worried about how it might be implemented then, we’re downright terrified about it now!

Dr. Beck’s new role will put her at the center of how chemical safety is assessed in our country. Given her previous role working against Lautenberg and trying to deregulate chemical companies, she serves as a direct conflict of interest in this matter. In addition to this, she also has a history of publicly criticizing the EPA’s program for determining chemical toxicity, especially when findings call for stricter regulations.

This conflict generates a great threat to the health and safety of both people and the environment. The connection between Dr. Beck and the industries she’s supposed to be regulating are too close to assume a fair implementation process. Efforts to remove Dr. Beck from the task of implementing the Lautenberg Act and similar regulatory policies need to be taken to ensure that the safest chemical policies are reached.

The Ecology Center joined organizations from across the country in calling on Administrator Pruitt to review the ethical issues and potential conflicts of interest surrounding Dr. Beck and her new role. You can join this effort by signing the petition to EPA Administrator Pruitt to evaluate the potential conflict of interest that Dr. Beck holds in relation to her new position. Acting now could help stop chemical policy rollbacks that will impact our health for generations to come. 

Published on May 30, 2017