Democrat asks for probe of Trump administration 'forever chemical' rulemaking

Democrat asks for probe of Trump administration 'forever chemical' rulemaking
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Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperNot a pretty picture: Money laundering and America's art market OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat | White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus | Trump faces another challenge to rewrite of bedrock environmental law NEPA White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus MORE (D-Del.) on Tuesday pushed for a probe into the rulemaking process used by the Trump administration regarding the regulation of a class of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS. 

He wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inspector general (IG) and asked for an investigation into what he called “potential irregularities” during the finalization for a rule aiming to restrict the use of certain types of PFAS chemicals in consumer products. 

PFAS chemicals are often called “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in nature and the human body, and they are found in a variety of products as well as drinking water.

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“I request that you investigate the manner in which the PFAS [rule] was re-proposed and finalized ... and whether the process used to significantly alter the rule after it was signed but before it was published in the Federal Register was appropriate and legal,” Carper wrote. 

Documents released by Carper's office in April show that White House officials had pressed for the EPA to make certain changes to the rule it was developing. 

Among the changes the White House wanted in the now-published proposal were the inclusion of a “safe harbor” for importers of the chemical who may be unaware of the regulation and the establishment of a threshold level that would trigger it. 

At the time, the administration stressed that this was part of an ordinary review process and that the EPA is often required to participate in an interagency review process. 

In his letter, Carper particularly singles out an official named Nancy Beck, who was serving in the White House during the time in question but previously worked at the EPA. 

He claimed that Beck, who is currently nominated to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “spent years trying to delay and weaken the PFAS [rule] both in her current White House capacity as well as in her previous role at EPA.”

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An EPA spokesman slammed the accusations as “baseless” in a statement to The Hill. 

“These accusations against Nancy Beck are baseless. Dr. Beck was not involved in pushing for any provisions in the final rule,” said spokesman James Hewitt. 

Asked for comment, EPA IG spokesman Jeffrey Lagda confirmed receipt of Carper’s letter and said that IG Sean O’Donnell and his team are reviewing it.