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E&C Dems Urge Walden to Investigate EPA's Permitting of Toxic Chemicals

PA Administrator Pruitt denied a petition to permanently ban chlorpyrifos, which is known to cause neurodevelopmental harm in infants and children

Four Energy and Commerce Committee democratic leaders sent a letter to Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today urging Committee Republicans to work with Democrats to carry out oversight and investigate the Trump Administration’s decision to allow the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos despite overwhelming scientific evidence that this chemical causes serious neurodevelopmental harm in infants and children.  The letter was signed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY).

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt denied a petition to permanently ban chlorpyrifos nationwide.  Pruitt made this decision in spite of his own agency’s scientific assessment that chlorpyrifos is present in our food and drinking water at unsafe levels in violation of public safety standards and that exposure to the chemical by infants and children can cause delayed mental development, attention problems, autism spectrum disorders, and intelligence decrements.

“This decision increases our concern that the Trump Administration is failing to properly implement the Food Quality Protection Act,” Committee Democrats wrote to Chairman Walden.  “This important public health statute falls squarely within this Committee’s jurisdiction.  The Committee bears a responsibility to investigate, and we ask that you join us in requesting documents from the Administration, and hold hearings on this important public health issue.”

The letter also raises concerns that the chlorpyrifos decision may be part of an emerging pattern at EPA under the Trump Administration.  Recently, EPA expanded the use of the pesticide glyphosate despite scientific evidence of risk, and may do so again in the near future.  Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup weed killer, is the most widely used agricultural pesticide and a probable human carcinogen.  Court documents recently unsealed in a lawsuit over glyphosate show that Monsanto and CropLife America had a large, and potentially inappropriate, role in the registration process for that pesticide.  Committee Democrats are concerned that similar documents may exist with respect to chlorpyrifos.