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EPA chief met with Dow CEO before deciding on pesticide ban

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First, note correction to story:

In a story June 27, The Associated Press, relying on schedules provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, reported erroneously that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris for about a half-hour at a Houston hotel. A spokeswoman for the EPA says the meeting listed on the schedule was canceled, though Pruitt and Liveris did have a “brief introduction in passing.”

A corrected version of the story is below:

EPA chief met with Dow CEO before deciding on pesticide ban

Records show the Trump administration’s top environmental official met briefly with the chief executive of Dow Chemical shortly before reversing his agency’s push to ban a widely-used pesticide after health studies showed it can harm children’s brains

Michael Biesecker reports for Associated Press:

The Trump administration’s top environmental official met briefly with the chief executive of Dow Chemical shortly before reversing his agency’s push to ban a widely used pesticide after health studies showed it can harm children’s brains, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s schedule showed he was slated to meet with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9 for about a half-hour at a Houston hotel. Rachelle Schikorra, a spokeswoman for Dow, said the formal meeting “never happened due to schedule conflicts.”

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman also said the formal meeting was canceled. She said Pruitt and Liveris did have a “brief introduction in passing” at the energy conference in Houston they were both attending.

“They did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” Bowman said. “During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

Twenty days later Pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food, despite a review by his agency’s scientists that concluded ingesting even minuscule amounts of the chemical can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.

EPA released a copy of Pruitt’s March meeting schedule earlier this month following several Freedom of Information Act requests. Though his schedule for the intervening months has not yet been released, Bowman said Pruitt has had no other meetings with the Dow CEO. There was a larger group meeting that Pruitt attended which also included two other Dow executives, but she said that didn’t involve chlorpyrifos.

Dow, which spent more than $13.6 million on lobbying in 2016, has long wielded substantial political power in the nation’s capital.

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order in February mandating the creation of task forces at federal agencies to roll back government regulations, he handed the pen to Dow’s chief executive, who was standing at his side. Liveris heads a White House manufacturing working group. His company also wrote a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump’s inaugural festivities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urged Pruitt on Tuesday to take chlorpyrifos off the market. The group representing more than 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons said it is “deeply alarmed” by Pruitt’s decision to allow the pesticide’s continued use.

“There is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women,” the academy said in a letter to Pruitt. “The risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.”

The AP reported in April that Dow is also lobbying the Trump administration to “set aside” the findings of federal scientists that organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, are harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.

The chemical is similar to one developed as a weapon in World War II. Dow has been selling Chlorpyrifos for spraying on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops since the 1960s. It is among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States. Dow sells about 5 million pounds domestically each year.

As a result, traces of the chemical are commonly found in sources of drinking water. A 2012 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of chlorpyrifos.

Dow, which sells chlorpyrifos through its subsidiary Dow AgroSciences, contends it helps American farmers feed the world “with full respect for human health and the environment.”

Under pressure from federal regulators over safety concerns, Dow voluntarily withdrew chlorpyrifos for use as a home insecticide in 2000. EPA also placed “no-spray” buffer zones around sensitive sites, such as schools, in 2012. But environmental and public health groups said those proposals don’t go far enough and filed a federal lawsuit seeking a national ban on the pesticide.

In October 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning the pesticide’s use on food. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2017 at 6:13 pm

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