A former University of Cincinnati professor has withdrawn his nomination to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety and pollution prevention office after senators from both political parties expressed concern that he’s too close to the industries he’d regulate.
Michael Dourson founded a Cincinnati-based nonprofit group called Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, whose work to assess chemical risks was partially funded by industry interests, chemical manufacturers and tobacco companies, leading to questions about the objectivity of its conclusions.
Although the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works signed off on Dourson’s nomination in an October party-line vote, his approval by the full U.S. Senate appeared unlikely after North Carolina’s two Republican senators said they wouldn’t support him.
The pair – Richard Burr and Tom Tillis – noted that their state has a history of contamination at the Camp Lejeune military base, as well as water issues in Wilmington. They said those concerns kept them from supporting Dourson.
Dourson’s backers, including the environmental committee’s chairman, Wyoming Republican John Barasso, argued his years of experience in assessing toxic chemicals made him well qualified for the job.
But Democrats and environmental groups argued that he had no business overseeing the nation’s chemical-safety programs.
“The withdrawal of his nomination and his removal from serving in a non-confirmed position at EPA is in the best interest of all Americans,” said a release from the top Democrat on the environmental committee, Delaware’s Tom Carper.