Biden EPA transition team member helped DuPont dodge responsibility for PFOA
November 11, 2020
Read the full article by Sharon Lerner (The Intercept)
“THE BIDEN TRANSITION TEAM has appointed Michael McCabe to its agency review team at the Environmental Protection Agency. McCabe, who served as Biden’s communications and projects director between 1987 and 1995 and as deputy administrator of the EPA at the end of the Clinton administration, led DuPont’s defense of the toxic PFAS chemical PFOA.
McCabe began managing DuPont’s communications with the EPA about the toxic chemical in 2003, two years after he left his job as deputy administrator of the agency, and continued in that role until at least 2006. As The Intercept previously reported, his still fresh relationships with his former colleagues in government came in handy as McCabe skillfully and successfully helped the giant corporation dodge the agency’s efforts to set binding limits on the chemical.RelatedHow DuPont Slipped Past the EPA
When McCabe began overseeing the team of attorneys and high-level former EPA staffers, the agency had just initiated a ‘priority review’ of PFOA, a perfluorinated chemical DuPont used since the 1950s to make its blockbuster nonstick coating, Teflon. At that point, the chemical had already been discovered in the drinking water of tens of thousands of people living near one of the company’s plants, in Parkersburg, West Virginia. DuPont already knew that PFOA accumulated in workers bodies and caused a wide range of health effects, including cancer, in lab animals. Over time, the chemical would be found to cause a long list of human health effects in addition to cancer.
If it deemed PFOA sufficiently toxic through the priority review, the EPA could go on to regulate it under several laws, including the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Clean Water Act. As DuPont knew, such a move could trigger hefty cleanup costs, and McCabe’s team made every effort to avoid that outcome. Among the high-profile former EPA officials who worked with him to protect the chemical — and DuPont’s profits from it — during this time was Linda Fisher, an attorney who succeeded him as deputy administrator at the EPA…”