U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler expressing their strong concern over the future of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP) and the EPA’s mission to safeguard the health of America’s youth in light of recent reports.
The letter follows EPA’s unexplained placement of the OCHP Director, Dr. Ruth Etzel, on administrative leave and widespread stakeholder concerns about the future of the office and its mission to ensure children’s health is a priority in EPA decisions.
Udall is ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing EPA’s budget and Reed, Merkley, Durbin and Murray are all members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“We recognize the important role that EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection plays as one of the only offices that addresses the impact of EPA regulations and policies on the health of America’s infants, children, and young adults,” the senators wrote to Wheeler. “Infants and children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental contaminants and face disproportionate exposure to environmental factors that negatively affect health.”
“We are concerned about the future of this office and ensuring that all EPA actions and programs continue to address the unique vulnerabilities of children,“ the senators continued. “We expect that any proposed changes to the OCHP would not be initiated or implemented without the required approval from the Appropriations Committee.”
In the letter, the senators sought answers to six important questions about the future of the office, along with an explanation of the personnel action taken against Dr. Etzel, and personal assurance from Wheeler that all EPA policies, actions, and programs will continue to protect the unique vulnerabilities of children. They seek direct responses about the EPA’s long-term plans for the Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP) and funding and resource allocations by Oct. 18, 2018.
The full text of the letter is available here.