The Senate holds a hearing today in its Environment Committee to review the process that has changed the way the EPA is able to screen chemicals for cancer and other health risks. The undermining of the EPA’s ability to determine health issues by the Bush administration has increased the steps required before the EPA can stop the use of certain chemicals by years in some cases. They have decreased the ability to determine health dangers by letting non scientists have a bigger – sometimes secret – role in a chemicals determination. They have doubled the number of steps required and have risk assessments way behind, sometimes by years. Extensive involvement by the White House and EPA managers has eroded the independence of the EPA scientists who determine the health risks posed by chemicals. Multiple government agencies -who could be affected by the findings – are now allowed to participate at every step of the investigation into the chemicals they use. If the EPA were to find against them or their contractors they would face serious restrictions and cleanup requirements. “By law the EPA must protect our families from dangerous chemicals,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the Senate committee’s chairman. “Instead, they’re protecting the chemical companies.” Hopefully she and the other Senators can get to the bottom of this and get the EPA back on track and not being run by people with a vested interest in the outcomes of investigations.

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