Nonpartisan watchdog American Oversight and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) today announced a joint investigation to determine if controversial toxicologist Michael Dourson has violated ethics rules in his work as a top advisor to Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Dourson, a toxicology professor who previously ran a scientific consulting group that performed and reviewed chemical safety studies on behalf of industry clients, was nominated by President Trump to run the EPA’s office overseeing chemical safety and pollution prevention. With Dourson’s confirmation in doubt following strong opposition from the environmental and scientific communities, Pruitt hired Dourson as a senior advisor in October – a role that doesn’t need Senate approval – allowing him to begin work at the agency.
“Michael Dourson working at the EPA raises every red flag imaginable for potential conflicts of interest and inappropriate influence by the very companies that the agency regulates,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight. “Michael Dourson has been at the EPA for more than a month, and if he’s been using his position to help his old clients in the chemical industry, the public needs to know before the Senate votes on his confirmation.”
“Letting Dourson anywhere near the levers of power at EPA responsible for protecting the public from toxic chemicals is akin to turning over the American Lung Association to a tobacco executive,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at EWG. “If he’s now doing the bidding for chemical companies inside EPA the American people and the Senate deserve to know.”
Dourson and his group Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, or TERA, which gets 30 to 40 percent of its funding to produce studies for the chemical industry, have advocated for chemical safety standards that are hundreds, even thousands of times weaker than what independent scientists and the EPA consider to be safe.
In a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed this week, American Oversight and EWG asked the EPA to release documents including Dourson’s calendar, his correspondence with companies such as Dow Chemical and Monsanto, and any communications with outside consultants assisting with his confirmation process.
Part of Investigation: