Michael Dourson, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety program, has reportedly withdrawn his nomination. Dourson worked 15 years at the EPA, but he has also consulted for chemical companies, Bloomberg reports, and for that work, he has received criticism.
Dourson led Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, a non-profit consulting firm. An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News found that the firm has close ties to chemical manufacturers and other industry interests. Over 50 percent of the peer-review panels organized by the firm since 1995 were funded by industry groups. The firm received financial and in-kind support from companies and government agencies for its risk-assessment database, and some of the groups paid the firm to peer-review studies they hoped would be included in the database.
Too much even for the U.S. Senate
Dourson faced criticism from congressional members for his close ties with the chemical industry, including from two Republican senators from North Carolina. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr both expressed their opposition to Dourson’s nomination. Burr said he would not support his nomination because of “his record and our state’s history of contamination at Camp Lejeune as well as the current Gen X water issues in Wilmington.” He added that he was not “confident he is the best choice for our country.”
During Dourson’s hearing nomination, Senate Democrats blasted his ties to the chemical industry.
“You’re not just an outlier on this science, you’re outrageous in how far from the mainstream of science you actually are,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) spoke about the residents of Hoosick Falls, New York diagnosed with illnesses such as cancer from contaminated drinking water with from a Saint Gobain's Performance Plastics plant, reported The Hill. Dourson served on a 2002 panel that decided on a level of safe exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) than the EPA has recommended.
“Their lives are so affected by the decisions that you have made,” she said.
One less fox watching the henhouse
One U.S. Senator released a statement after hearing the news that Dourson withdrew his nomination. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said, “ I sincerely believe he is the wrong person to hold this important position, and it’s now clear that, even with a Republican majority in the Senate, he could not be confirmed.” He added that Dourson’s withdrawal “should serve as a lesson to the Senate.”
Dourson is not the only Trump nominee to withdraw from consideration. In November, Sam Clovis withdrew his nomination to be one of the top officials in the Agriculture Department after it was discovered he received emails from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, that concerned meetings with Russian representatives, according to Bloomberg.
Environmental groups expressed their views on Dourson’s nomination. Dr. Richard Denison, Lead Senior Scientist for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), said, “The withdrawal of Michael Dourson’s nomination is good news for the health of American families.” He added that the Trump administration “should now nominate a person of integrity, with a demonstrated commitment to protecting public health.”
“Michael Dourson epitomized putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” said League of Conservation Voters Legislative Representative Madeleine Foote.
“Dourson has spent his career downplaying the health risks of toxic chemicals to children, pregnant women, and other vulnerable communities.”