Sun, Nov 05, 2017 - Page 5 News List

EPA head, chemical industry to meet privately


The top environmental regulator of US President Donald Trump’s administration is set to speak privately to chemical industry executives next week during a conference at a luxury oceanfront golf resort.

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is listed as the featured speaker at a board meeting of the American Chemistry Council, which has lobbied against stricter regulations for chemical manufacturers.

The three-day conference is being held at the Sanctuary resort on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Council spokeswoman Anne Kolton said Pruitt’s speech would not be open to the public or the news media.

Admission to the members-only event ranges between US$2,500 and US$7,500, depending on sponsorship level. Rooms at the resort are being offered to conference attendees at a discounted rate of US$389 per night, not including taxes and fees.

Travel and lodging expenses for Pruitt, four aides and his security team are to be borne by taxpayers.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox declined to provide an estimate of the total cost for the trip, but said the government employees would be staying for US$135 a night, within the limit allowed under federal travel reimbursement rules.

Registration fees for Pruitt and his staff were waived since he is an invited speaker.

The government employees would not be participating in the golf events scheduled as part of the conference, Wilcox said.

Corporate members of the council include industry giants Dow Chemical, DuPont, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Arkema.

A Republican lawyer who previously served as the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt railed against federal environmental regulations he considers too restrictive on the petrochemical industry.

Following his appointment to lead the EPA, Pruitt has repeatedly intervened to reverse or delay implementation of regulations opposed by chemical and pesticide makers.

Pruitt overruled the recommendation of his agency’s own scientists to ban the Dow pesticide chlorpyrifos after federal scientists concluded it can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.

Pruitt also delayed until at least 2019 rules from former US president Barack Obama’s administration that would have tightened safety requirements for companies storing large quantities of dangerous chemicals after the industry opposed the regulations.

Pruitt has also named chemical industry insiders to key posts within the agency overseeing chemical and pesticide safety.

The agency’s top public affairs official, Liz Bowman, until March worked as the director of issue and advocacy communications for the council.

The EPA’s inspector general has launched a review of Pruitt’s frequent taxpayer-funded trips, which often include weekend layovers at his home in Oklahoma, to determine whether they adhere to federal travel polices.

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