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Dem senator slams Trump EPA nominee for starting work before confirmation

The Hill: Dem senator slams Trump EPA nominee for starting work before confirmation

By Josh Delk

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) slammed the Trump administration for what she called a "terrible nomination" for a top position in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying the pick, who already works for the agency, may have large conflicts of interest. 

Gillibrand said in a statement Wednesday that she was "stunned" when she learned that Michael Dourson, President Trump's nominee to head the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Protection, was already serving as an unpaid adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. 

“The fact that he has already begun advising the EPA administrator shows contempt for the committee’s role in his nomination process and more importantly a profound disrespect to the families who are terrified about what toxic chemicals are going to do to their children’s health," Gillibrand said, calling for the EPA to cut ties with Dourson until the Senate could vote on him. 

Gillibrand, who serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that will vote on Dourson, cited his past work in the chemicals industry at the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment group. Dourson's opponents say the group's research reached beneficial conclusions on chemicals that were out step with other scientists. 

“There is no way around it. Michael Dourson has spent his career helping chemical companies cover up deadly chemical contamination. His record of greenwashing the actions of chemical companies and placing their profits over the health and well-being of children is appalling," the environmentally conscious senator said. 

Other Democrats have criticized Dourson, as well. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said Wednesday she would place a hold on his nomination and another EPA nominee because of their backgrounds working as advocates for the industries they would be overseeing. 

The EPW committee was due to vote on Dourson on Wednesday, but Republicans delayed the hearing on Tuesday night. Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said a vote could come next week.