Chicago Groups Respond to Petcoke Apologist’s Nomination to EPA Post

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held confirmation hearings yesterday for Michael Dourson to head the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Dourson has written numerous studies on behalf of industry downplaying environmental impacts, including one diminishing concerns of neighbors living near mountains of petcoke on Chicago’s Southeast Side, that have since largely been removed as a result of the community’s advocacy.

Following is a joint statement from the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke (SSCBP), the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF), Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Northwestern Pritzker Law's Environmental Advocacy Clinic, Chicago Legal Clinic, and Reclaim Chicago:

“Michael Dourson’s nomination to head the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention would be catastrophic for communities like those in Chicago’s Southeast Side. Senator Tammy Duckworth’s challenge in yesterday’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to Dourson’s credibility and record bring up serious concerns about his ties to industry.

“Senator Duckworth’s concern for the health of Illinoisans is crucial in a time when many federal officials have turned their backs on the health of the people in favor of industry. With this stance, she joins Senator Durbin and Representative Kelly’s leadership in acting to address the issues afflicting the Southeast Side. Now is the time for all of Illinois’ Congressional delegation to push back against this flawed nominee and his efforts to limit public protections from toxic chemicals.

“Dourson’s Koch Industries-funded study was an effort to slow the public’s petcoke pushback, forcing our neighbors on the Southeast Side to deal with petcoke's negative impacts for even longer. His legacy of industry-funded science ignores the impacts on communities and has no place in the Environmental Protection Agency. Our community continues to deal with manganese, particulate matter and other cumulative pollution impacts that might be worsened by a polluter apologist in this role at the Agency.” 


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​