Lawmaker Won’t Support EPA Nominee Over Industry Ties, Even Though He Holds $685,000 In Energy Stocks

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware objects to President Donald Trump’s newest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee’s industry ties, even though Carper holds significant amounts of stock in energy companies his committee is responsible for regulating.

Carper, who promises to oppose the confirmation of Michael Dourson to a position with the EPA over his ties to the industry, holds more than $685,000 in energy stock from companies his Environment and Public Works Committee regulates. Carper’s office calls the discrepancy a mere distraction to draw attention away from Trump’s EPA nominees.

Dourson was nominated to be the agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and worked at the EPA for 15 years starting as a toxicologist before founding the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) nonprofit corporation.

Trump’s nominee for the agency’s top chemical regulators has twice accepted money from PPG Industries, a global company that manufactures paints and coatings in Ohio. The company produces a chemical called 1,4 dioxane, a product which some regulators believe is a carcinogen linked to liver tumors. Carper believes his connections disqualify him for a spot in the EPA.

He questioned whether Dourson could remain an “impartial regulator” during a confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Environment and Public Works Committee. Carper also propped up a poster during the hearing that described Trump’s nominee as conducting “Science for Sale.” His criticisms during the hearing are among several Carper has lobbed at Dourson in recent weeks.

“This is the first time anyone with such clear and extensive ties to the chemical industry has been picked to regulate that industry,” he told reporters in September when Trump first announced his nominee for the position. Carper’s most recent financial disclosures, however, show he might have a similar problem.

He and his wife own up to $100,000 in Dupont Energy stock, as well as $50,000 in stock with Icahn Enterprises, Duke Energy Corporation, among a variety of other major chemical and petroleum producing companies.

Carper’s financial ties to companies were not relevant to the senator’s criticisms, an official in Carper’s office told reporters Wednesday.

“Efforts to cast a shadow of impropriety over his finances is nothing more than a cheap shot and a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the Trump administration’s troublesome effort to staff the Environmental Protection Agency with people whose entire careers have focused on promoting the interests of industry over the protection of the environment and our public health,” the official said.

Carper was caught up in a similar embarrassment earlier this year when he criticized EPA chief Scott Pruitt during the former Oklahoma attorney general’s confirmation hearings over his state’s failing grades on high ozone days. Yet the three counties Carper presides over did just as bad as the 17 counties in Pruitt’s state.

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