It appears that during this Trump era, the EPA is under unprecedented assault, with Scott Pruitt bending or neutering its regulations to favor corporate interests. But this has always been the goal of the laissez-faire deregulation crowd. The main difference now is that Trump has engaged in a high spectacle, full-frontal attack, whereas previous administrations maintained a pretext of scientific objectivity and regulatory balance. This was necessary when there were still checks and balance between the three branches of government – but no more. It’s no-holds-barred with our Federal government in lock down by Neo-cons, Tea Partyers, and the likes of Monsanto and Koch and JPMorgan Chase.
Nowadays, the main impediments to power and profit that corporations want removed from EPA jurisdiction have to do with fossil fuel policies – extraction, pipelines, export terminals, waste, and the costs associated with those. Before climate disruption was acknowledged, or before genetic engineering existed, in the 1970’s and 80’s the EPA focus was more on personal and environmental toxins – pesticides, food contaminants, air and water pollution, acid rain, CFCs and the ozone hole, etc. Either way, “environmental responsibility” was never part of the corporate lexicon, but a “burden” preventing maximization of profits.
Through Congressional bills and EPA regulations, many of the 20th Century environmental problems were resolved, or at least diminished. This seemed true also of toxic agricultural chemicals or food additives, which were subjected to a host of testing and certification. However, the Bioscience Resource Project recently released an exposé titled “The Poison Papers”, that illustrates EPA collusion with the chemical industry in the 1970’s, that allowed pseudoscience or even fraudulent testing to certify dangerous chemicals as being safe.
The Poison Papers represent a vast trove of rediscovered chemical industry and regulatory agency documents and correspondence stretching back to the 1920s. One case has to do with animal testing by the Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories (IBT), which conducted an estimated 35 to 40 percent of all the toxicology tests performed in the United States. When IBT fraud and misconduct was discovered in the 1970’s, the EPA could have ordered retests, and withdrawn its approval from every IBT-tested chemical. Instead, senior EPA administrators held a secret 1978 meeting to cover up the fraud, along with Canada’s Health Protection Branch and executives of the chemical industry. Dr. Jonathan Latham, Director of the Bioscience Resource Project, said the transcript of the meeting “exemplifies as well as any other single document among The Poison Papers, the history of everyday regulatory failures and agency complicity that is the unknown story of the EPA and its enduring collusion with the chemical industry, and whose result is a systemic failure to protect the American public from chemical hazards”.
At this particular meeting which was held at the Arlington VA Howard Johnson Inn, the EPA’s chief representative, Fred Arnold, assured IBT that “no chemicals would be removed from the market, even though the studies supposedly showing their safety had been proven fraudulent”. Dr. Latham notes “As the Howard Johnson transcript reveals, a majority of the IBT studies were never intended to be redone, and still underlie the U.S. chemical regulatory system”. Learn more at – The Poison Papers: Thousands of Pages Discovered, Detail the Secret EPA Collusion With the Chemical Industry, and Bioscience Resource Project.