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Trump EPA to shred rules on toxic pollution

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opednews.com Headlined to H1 6/10/18

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At the direction of the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is radically revising its method for determining health and safety risks associated with toxic chemicals, considering only the impact of exposure in the workplace and direct consumption of the toxins, but not the longer-term impact of the diffusion of such substances into the air, water and land.

A report in the Friday edition of the New York Times characterized the decision as "a big victory for the chemical industry," which effectively guts enforcement of a law passed in 2016 requiring the EPA to evaluate hundreds of chemicals, many of them in common use, and determine if they should face new restrictions or be withdrawn from the market.

According to the Times, "as it moves forward reviewing the first batch of 10 chemicals, the EPA has in most cases decided to exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances' presence in the air, the ground or water, according to more than 1,500 pages of documents released last week by the agency."

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The agency will consider possible harm caused by workplace exposure -- i.e., in the manufacturing of a chemical -- and by direct consumption where the chemical is normally used, as with perchloroethylene, a suspected carcinogen widely used in dry-cleaning. But the accumulating runoff of perchloroethylene into rivers and streams, into the air, or into landfills will not be studied, even though 44 states have found the chemical in drinking water.

Two of the senior officials involved in this decision-making come directly from the chemical manufacturing industry. Nancy B. Beck, who oversees the toxic chemical unit of the EPA, was previously an executive at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry lobby. Another official involved is Erik Baptist, a former lawyer for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil and gas companies, many of which have chemical subsidiaries.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), "the Trump administration is systematically weakening the EPA and seeking to dismantle key new authorities and mandates Congress just gave it under the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act." The actions taken by EPA include an indefinite delay on bans of high-risk uses of three dangerous chemicals: methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone and trichloroethylene.

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The EDF warned of the capture of the EPA by cronies of the polluting industries, giving Nancy Beck as a prime example of "a senior official at the American Chemistry Council -- the chemical industry's primary lobbying arm. In her new job, she is shaping policy on hazardous chemicals, making decisions that directly affect the financial interests of ACC member companies."

In some cases, Beck has introduced language written by the ACC directly into EPA mandates, the environmental group charged.

Just in its risk analysis for the first 10 chemicals assessed under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA will discount the effect of an estimated 68 million pounds a year of emissions, according to an EDF analysis.

The Times added, based on its review of hundreds of EPA documents, that other changes in the interests of polluters "narrow the definitions of certain chemicals, including asbestos." The newspaper continued: "Some asbestos-like fibers will not be included in the risk assessments, one agency staff member said, nor will the 8.8 million pounds a year of asbestos deposited in hazardous landfills or the 13.1 million pounds discarded in routine dump sites."

All told, more than 70 lawsuits have been filed against EPA regulatory actions, nearly all of them challenging agency actions that were aligned with corporate interests and aimed at increasing the risk to the general population from toxic substances being released into the air and water or dumped into ordinary landfills rather than specially prepared sites.

Also Thursday, the EPA issued an advanced notice of proposed rule-making indicating that it was going to largely scrap any consideration of social costs and social benefits in the formulation of anti-pollution regulations, limiting rules instead to the immediate cost and benefit for the corporations involved.

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A few days earlier, on June 1, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency would no longer evaluate asbestos in homes and businesses as a health risk, even though the death toll from asbestos exposure is estimated at 12,000 to 15,000 people a year in the United States alone.

The EPA has also sought to suppress a study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that suggested much lower levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctane acid (PFOS and PFOA) for human health and safety than suggested by the EPA. These chemicals are in widely used substances like Teflon.

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).

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8 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments  Post Comment


Hosea McAdoo

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"Don't fret, all will be OK. The super rich like me will have purified, sterile houses. We'll be OK." What about the rest of us? 'We're going to have a study done by my wife for a billion dollars; the results will be back by 2025.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 10, 2018 at 3:39:56 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I have a gut feeling that the continued pollution of our environment, the toxins killing soil microbes and bees, the cumulative tiny amounts of chemicals causing the exponential rise in food alergies, autism, cancer, Alzheimer's, etc., are just as lethal to the human race as climate change. Every year of industrial agriculture makes it harder, approaching impossible, to restore farmland to a productive, living entity, not just a stew of pesticides and fossil fuel fertilizers.


I know too many educated, middle class oldsters who still eat cheap agribusiness calories, believing that the FDA would do something if there were real problems. I get to watch them eat a very expensive handful of big pharma one or two times a day while they waste away and die.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 10, 2018 at 5:19:10 PM

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I agree with all you say, Chuck. I have some thoughts that may be similar to what you're saying. We need deep change. First, the pollution of the environment is reflected in our chemicals that foster food allergies, autism, cancer, Alzheimers, etc. Psychologically, we are way too immersed in divisive politics. The reason for this divisive mess is reflected in the simple rule we've heard often, the ethos of "divide and conquer."


Could it be that we foster "unite and prosper?" Can we go there? Where can we go with this? Or, perhaps we can't? What would a sane world look like to you, and those who may read your comments?


Submitted on Sunday, Jun 10, 2018 at 7:07:14 PM

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BFalcon

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Are you suggesting that we should unite with Trump's hardliners?

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 10, 2018 at 7:30:53 PM

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It is increasingly apparent that the Trump administration

was pre-determined to destroy this country. The people are

being attacked at every angle.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 11, 2018 at 1:07:48 AM

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Trump and Putin as partners in world takeover. It seems to me that treasonous collaboration is present as was and is being worked out between the two to overthrow the USA.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 11, 2018 at 1:21:49 AM

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America and its lost soul.....it's killing and destroying people and countries in much of the world and poisoning its own people and environment at home....and when we had moral men who wanted to serve the country and the people, they were assassinated. How anyone can be proud to be an American is beyond me.

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OMG, Demon Craps and Turdicans hold hands as they wipe their bottoms with the lives of the public. May their bipartisanship be rewarded in the afterlife as Dante's Inferno portrayed it long ago.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 11, 2018 at 5:23:36 PM

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In case anyone is interested in seeing what Patrick Martin looks like, see here.

Submitted on Friday, Jun 15, 2018 at 1:56:32 PM

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