Two Republican Senators Oppose EPA Nominee Dourson

North Carolina’s Republican Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, issued statements saying they oppose President Donald Trump’s pick to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency, putting Michael L. Dourson’s nomination at serious risk, The Associated Press reports.

Environmentalists and Senate Democrats have scarcely opposed Dourson, a toxicologist with close ties to the chemical industry. Despite the fact he hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Senate, Dourson has already been working at the agency as a senior adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The Associated Press reported in September that Dourson has for years accepted payments for criticizing studies that raised concerns about the safety of his clients’ products, according to a review of financial records and his published work.

Past corporate clients of Dourson and of a research group he ran include Dow Chemical Co., Koch Industries Inc. and Chevron Corp. His research has also been underwritten by industry trade and lobbying groups representing the makers of plastics, pesticides, processed foods and cigarettes. Burr and Tillis have also cited Dourson’s past work and worries among their home-state constituents about tainted drinking water, in opposing his nomination.

“Over the last several weeks, Senator Tillis has done his due diligence in reviewing Mr. Dourson’s body of work. Senator Tillis still has serious concerns about his record and cannot support his nomination.” said a statement from Tillis’ office.

Dourson worked at the EPA for more than a decade, leaving in 1994 as the manager at a lab that assessed the health risks of exposure to chemicals. In 1995 he founded Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, a private toxicity evaluation nonprofit organization that tests chemicals and produces reports on which chemicals are hazardous in what quantities.

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