By Callie Lyons, email@example.com
The announcement that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Administrator Christine Whitman will resign June 27 comes at a
time when the agency is in the middle of its largest
manufacturing chemical investigation ever. The chemical in
question, known to DuPont as C8 and to scientists as PFOA, is
key to the manufacturing of the nonstick substance trademarked
as Teflon. The chemical is a major issue for area citizens
because of its use by DuPont's Washington, W.Va., plant and
its discovery in several local water systems.
Some environmentalists believe the next EPA administrator
appointed by President Bush will have significant impact on
the future investigation of C8 in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"It is the most important position as far as the
environment goes," said Dave Cooper, organizer of the Ohio
Valley Environmental Coalition, a non-profit organization in
Huntington, W.Va. "Given the Bush administration's record so
far, we are concerned that the next EPA administrator will be
an industry person. And, then enforcement and investigation
will get worse, not better."
Cooper's group has been disappointed with the policies of
the Bush administration regarding mountaintop removal and coal
mining. They are observing the C8 issue with interest also.
"So many chemicals get put on the market, and the burden is
put on the government to prove that the chemicals are safe,"
Cooper said. "I gave away all my Teflon frying pans this
morning. If the information about this chemical doesn't alarm
people, they are not thinking."
Cooper said Whitman had a reputation for being a moderate
Republican, continually fighting the Bush administration. He
doesn't want to see her replacement come from the ranks of the
oil and gas industry.
Bob Griffin, general manager of the Little Hocking Water
Association, said he doesn't know whether the change in EPA
administration will affect the local situation.
On June 6, Griffin will be one of several local people
traveling to Washington, D.C., for the public hearing, which
is the next step in the EPA's evaluation of the toxicity of
C8. Griffin said the EPA docket, which is available online, is
growing day by day with several comments from local people in
the water district.
EPA Senior Press Officer Luke Hester said the agency
administrator is appointed by the president and confirmed by
"It does require Senate confirmation," Hester said. "Which
could be quick or prolonged, depending upon the person and
their track record."
Hester said there will be no procedural delay in agency
services, since an acting administrator will be named to step
in the day that Whitman leaves. He suggested that Deputy
Administrator Linda Fisher is likely to be named as the new
administrator because she has worked in the agency for many
"It is likely to be someone who has a long history with the
agency and a long history in management," Hester said. "I'm
not saying there has been a definite decision made. It's
speculation, but pretty good speculation."
Sandy Buchanan, the executive director of Ohio Citizen
Action in Cleveland, said she does not believe a change in EPA
administration will make a difference in the future of C8 or
the general direction of the agency.
"The tone (for the EPA) is set by the president," Buchanan
said. "Whitman was carrying out Bush's policies, so I don't
know that it will make a big difference for him to appoint
someone else. The difference could only be made with a change
in his environmental policies."
No matter who replaces Whitman, environmentalists hope the
process of evaluating C8 will be aggressively pursued.
"We hope and trust that the next EPA administrator will
support continuation of the scientific inquiry into C8 that is
now well under way at the agency," said Environmental Working
Group President Ken Cook. "And, we're convinced that the
process will inevitably lead to regulation that is badly
needed and long overdue."
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