Harvard University Forum Addresses Conflicts over Science and Policy at the EPA


During a Harvard University Forum on October 19, Senator Tom Udall (D–Arizona) said that the implementation of the amended TSCA under the Trump administration has been a “remarkable disaster”.

The Forum examined the status of evidence-based environmental policy in the US following sweeping policy shifts, regulatory rollbacks, and decisions such as the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement prompt questions, and provided an opportunity to discuss the challenges facing environmental science today. Panelists explored areas potentially or already impacted by change, such as the Clean Power Plan, methane rules, and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) implementation — and their public health implications.

One of the architects of the 2016 legislation that updated the law, Senator Udall said despite the new law being strong, the Trump administration had been trying to “roll back what TSCA is trying to do”, which undermined the rule’s purpose to implement a system to protect science and public health.

Senator Udall said passage of the Frank R Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act put in place a law that began the process of fixing “a chemical safety law that was broken”. What is important, he added, “isn’t just the law, it’s the implementation of the law, and it’s the regulations that specifically focus in on the science and the public health – making sure we get all of it right.”

Other panelists during the hour-long discussion on conflicts between science and policy at the EPA, included former agency administrators Gina McCarthy and William Ruckelshaus and Harvard environmental law professor, Wendy Jacobs.

Posted by Helen Gillespie

Framework Outlines Canada-US Collaboration on Risk Assessment

North America map cropped

Canada and the US have released a framework to improve their alignment and collaboration on the risk assessment of chemicals.

In 2011, the Canadian and US governments launched the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council to facilitate closer cooperation between the two countries to develop more effective approaches to regulation. Last year, they committed to continue their dialogue on regulatory issues and pursue shared regulatory outcomes that reduce trade impediments, reduce costs, increase economic efficiency, and streamline regulations without compromising health, safety, and environmental standards.

The overall goal of the assessment collaboration framework is to facilitate and enhance collaboration between the three relevant governmental organizations – the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada — for the risk-based assessment of chemicals within their respective legislative and regulatory context.

Stakeholder engagement and broad communication to the public are additional goals of the framework. The framework will enable enhanced alignment on risk assessment of chemicals, including identification of risk assessment priorities, information gathering and sharing, risk assessment methodologies, work sharing and joint assessments.

More details about the framework are available on the Canadian government’s website.

Reported by Leslie Burt