Monday, April 05, 2004

European Union: US Interference in EU Chemical Policy Raises 'Very Serious Issues"

Like a film script a la Erin Brockovich

The European Union is not amused at American interference in development of a new chemical policy -- REACH -- which would require chemicals to be proven safe before being used.
"This report has the ingredients of a film script a la Erin Brockovich," said Anthony Gooch, spokesman for the Commission in Washington, referring to the story of a legal assistant's battle with industrial polluters.

"It raises very serious issues about the degree of balance on the part of the US in putting together its policy stances on EU legislation."
A report issued last week by Congressman Henry Waxman contained documents showing that the high level Bush Administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, are actively lobbying against the plan, following a script pushed by the U.S. chemical industry.
"Important and legitimate public interest concerns about the impact of chemicals on the environment, public health and whether the industry conforms to acceptable levels of sustainable development are key elements in bringing forward our proposals," Mr Gooch said. "But they just don't seem to have been part of the US policy formulation mix on this one."
According to Inside EPA, Waxman and Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) Democrats are considering requesting "a General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation into the administration’s activities and the degree to which they were formulated in secret with industry, or lawmakers could seek measures in the upcoming appropriations bills that would forbid federal agencies from lobbying on REACH."

Jeffords questioned Stephen Johnson at his confirmation hearing to become Deputy
Administrator of EPA last week about why EPA, which is supposed to be protecting the environment, is spending money on trips to Europe to oppose REACH. Waxman has requested relevant documents from a number of government agencies and sent a letter to President Bush asking the president to issue a statement saying that the United States will not work to “undermine environmental standards in other nations."