(Washington, DC) - Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee leaders raised concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to forego a scientific review of the chemical chloroprene. Environment Subcommittee Chairman Max Miller (R-OH) and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan requesting more information about the Agency’s process and decision making behind this critical choice, citing possible violations of scientific integrity policies.
In the letter, Miller and Babin note in March 2021, EPA’s Region 6 Office sent a formal nomination for EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) to undertake a review of chloroprene, as the last review was conducted in 2010 and new data and information is available. This request was rejected, and chloroprene was not submitted for a scientific review under the Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program.
“EPA credited this decision to a mutual agreement between ORD and Region 6, citing a July 2021 email in which the Region 6 Office rescinded its nomination for a scientific review of chloroprene,” Miller and Babin wrote. “This email went to extensive lengths to highlight Region 6’s opinion that the current IRIS assessment for chloroprene ‘continues to reflect the state-of-the-science’ and its view that there are no concerns or questions about the ‘validity, quality, or scientific rigor’ of the assessment.”
However, the Committee has since learned that it was in fact ORD officials that authored this email sent by the Region 6 Office praising the current IRIS assessment and withdrawing the request for scientific review. This is extremely concerning and could amount to a violation of the Agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy, as well as call into question the validity of the IRIS selection process.
“It appears that ORD officials, in an apparent effort to build a fabricated scientific record, authored the email withdrawing the request for scientific review on behalf of Region 6, which had previously determined a scientific review necessary,” Miller and Babin highlighted. They added, “If ORD drafted email communications on behalf of Region 6 officials in an effort to suppress or alter further scientific review of chloroprene under the IRIS program than it is likely one or more of the White House’s and EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policies have been violated.”
Miller and Babin noted that ORD’s silencing of the science in this instance calls into question broader issues with the IRIS process. “Ultimately, these actions undertaken by ORD could call into question the validity of the IRIS selection process – and specifically the role of political influence in what should be a scientific process,” they concluded.
In light of this alarming conduct, the Committee leaders request the EPA provide more information into their decision to reject further IRIS review of chloroprene by the requested February deadlines.
Read the full letter from Committee leaders here.