White House Sides with Chemical Industry, Yanks EPA Public Health Efforts

WASHINGTON (September 6, 2013) – The Obama Administration today moved to protect chemical-industry secrets from consumers and undermine health protections by withdrawing two pending proposals that would have helped inform the public about potentially dangerous chemicals.

One would have listed bisphenol A (BPA), eight phthalates, and a class of flame retardants known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers)—as “chemicals of concern.” The other would have made it harder for chemical companies to claim health and safety studies of new chemicals as confidential business information to shield them from public scrutiny.

Daniel Rosenberg, senior attorney in the public health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued this statement in response:

“Today’s disappointing news means this: The White House is catering to the interests of Dow, BASF, Exxon and other chemical manufacturers, and failing to protect the health of the American people. They are keeping information secret and stifling public debate on toxic chemicals the American people are widely exposed to now, and may endanger children’s health and the environment. Also, the White House blocked EPA’s efforts to help the public learn about new chemicals that raise health and environmental concerns.

“This is wrong, which is why it’s being done on a Friday afternoon, typically when administrations release information for which they know they ought to be ashamed.”