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

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