Gage Skidmore / Flickr scott pruitt...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Bowman said in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

The above is the response the New York Times received from the Environmental Protection Agency when it asked for information concerning that agency’s unprecedented efforts to deregulate the use of toxic chemicals known to cause birth defects, cancers, and immune deficiencies in humans.

The request was made in furtherance of an article, posted this weekend, about the Trump administration packing the agency responsible for protecting the American public against such toxins with chemical industry insiders whose aim is to unleash some 80,000 regulated chemicals, many of them known poisons, into the country’s air, water and soil.

The Times article profiled the appointment of Nancy Beck, a former executive from the American Chemistry Council, who has spearheaded this effort on behalf of the chemical industry. Beck has led the charge to reinstitute the  industry’s use of numerous toxic chemicals such as perfluorooctonoic acid, a compound favored by the industry in the development of non-stick pans and stain-resistant carpet, despite its well-established harmful effects on human beings:

Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals.  Both chemicals have caused tumors in animal studies. The most consistent findings from human epidemiology studies are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:
  • low infant birth weights,
  • effects on the immune system,
  • cancer (for PFOA), and
  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

This effort, and others by Trump’s poison brigades at the EPA, has understandably horrified longstanding EPA employees and scientists, among those in the Office of Water, who have attempted to sound the alarm to the public:

The changes directed by Dr. Beck may result in an “underestimation of the potential risks to human health and the environment” caused by PFOA and other so-called legacy chemicals no longer sold on the market, the Office of Water’s top official warned in a confidential internal memo obtained by The New York Times.


Other scientists and administrators at the E.P.A., including Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, until last month the agency’s top official overseeing pesticides and toxic chemicals, say the dangers are real and the pushback is often a tactic for deflecting accountability — and shoring up industry profits at the expense of public safety.

In March of this year, the agency, over the strong objections of Hamnett and agency scientists, permitted the use of the commercial pesticide chlorpyrifos, linked to developmental disabilities in children. Overall, under its directive from the Trump administration, the agency’s policy has been to reinstitute as many toxic chemicals into Americans’ bloodstreams and drinking water as demanded by the chemical industry:

The E.P.A.’s new leadership also pressed agency scientists to re-evaluate a plan to ban certain uses of two dangerous chemicals that have caused dozens of deaths or severe health problems: methylene chloride, which is found in paint strippers, and trichloroethylene, which removes grease from metals and is used in dry cleaning.

Liz Bowman, the agency’s spokeswoman who authored the sneering response refusing to provide information for the Times’ inquiry, is also, like Beck, a former employee of the American Chemistry Council. This industry front group’s attitude towards protecting the health of the American public was vividly demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey:

The American Chemistry Council came to attention after Hurricane Harvey when a chemical plant operated by the ACC caught fire and burned out of control because unstable toxic chemicals were improperly stored prior to the storm’s arrival.

The insolent attitude of Bowman, Beck and other officials towards legitimate attempts to determine whether the taxpayer-funded federal agencies under their direction are now working to actively harm Americans rather than protect them is yet another example of just how malevolent and contemptuous this Administration is towards the health and safety of the public.

These people are beyond despicable. The only question is why we should continue to pay their salaries.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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