New reporting by Associated Press begs further questions about administration's denial of science, coziness with industry
The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head, Scott Pruitt, sparked outrage in March when he rejected his agency's proposed ban on a pesticide shown to harm children's brains.
New reporting by the Associated Press Wednesday prompts further question about his decisions to ignore the EPA's own science and then greenlight the Dow Chemical-manufactured pesticide, chlorpyrifos, as the company had requested.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a frequent Trump critic, weighed in on the new reporting, tweeting: "I heard this pesticide helps growth in the swamp."
Records obtained by AP show that Pruitt had a 30-minute meeting with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9. That's just three weeks before he denied a petition from two environmental groups, initiated a decade ago, calling for a total ban on the harmful pesticide—a decision, wrote Kristin Schafer, program and policy director at Pesticide Action Network, that "clearly and publicly puts the interests of a chemical corporation above both scientific evidence and children's health."
AP's Michael Biesecker writes that the meeting took place in Houston at a hotel where Pruitt and Liveris were speakers at an energy industry conference. According to EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman, the men were only "briefly introduced" and "did not discuss chlorpyrifos." (Bowman, for her part, came to the EPA from the American Chemistry Council, an industry group of which Dow is a member.)
EPA released a copy of Pruitt's March meeting schedule earlier this month following several Freedom of Information Act requests. Though his schedule for the intervening months has not yet been released, Bowman said Pruitt has had no other meetings with the Dow CEO. There was a larger group meeting that Pruitt attended which also included two other Dow executives, but she said that didn't involve chlorpyrifos.