EPA Continues Attack on Silicones, Strong Coalition Responds

Today, the Cost of Government Center, joined by twenty other organizations, called on the EPA to end its capricious campaign against the silicones industry. Despite enormous evidence to the contrary, the EPA has continued to target the industry under the guise of environmental concerns. However, it is now avoiding a pragmatic solution offered by businesses that use silicones to address its concerns. The agency's recalcitrance to work with these private job creators is of great concern to the signatories of the letter, which can be read below:

We write on behalf of millions of concerned consumers regarding the EPA’s negotiation of an Enforceable Consent Agreement (ECA) for environmental monitoring of commonly-used silicones. These are important compounds that improve products as diverse as medical devices, electronics, automobiles and personal care products.  

It is our concern that EPA is pursuing an overreaching and confrontational approach to these negotiations with job creators who use silicones. We believe EPA's approach will impose unnecessary costs and burdens on an important American industry, undermining the agency's goals and impeding our nation's economic recovery.
According to a recent article in Inside EPA, the silicones industry volunteered to monitor siloxanes at five carefully selected wastewater treatment plants that would yield the most valuable information, including real-time, fact-based data on the environmental impact of siloxanes.  This offer comes in spite of years of testimony and research that demonstrate that silicones are not harmful to humans or the environment. In fact, Canada—not known for exercising regulatory restraint—recently removed one of the EPA-targeted siloxanes from its proposed list of toxic substances, after an independent panel of scientists attested it was “virtually impossible” it would “produce harm to the environment.”

The EPA has countered the ECA proposal by demanding industry expand monitoring to 42 sites, without offering justification for why an expansion would be of any research benefit. In fact, the agency's position only adds confusion to an already complex regulatory environment. The agency initially expressed it intended to collect data to assess the ecological risks associated with these materials. However, after the industry's proposal was submitted, the agency has pivoted and insisted on a greatly expanded monitoring program that is not justified on the basis of science, imposes unreasonable costs on industry, and will not bring about any meaningful environmental benefits.  This raises the question of whether the agency is truly committed to investigating potential environmental impacts or if it is more interested in expanding its aggressive regulatory regime.

This mandate would cost an industry—which is responsible for tens of thousands of jobs—upwards of $50 million without providing any real benefits to the environment.  

As supposed stewards of public trust and environmental health, it is peculiar that the EPA would rebuff this non-controversial opportunity to cooperate with industry to ensure the safety of substances.  EPA's request seems more like a backdoor regulatory grab than a serious attempt at obtaining data based on sound scientific principles.

The EPA’s actions are illustrative of the challenges businesses face in today’s economy; widespread uncertainty created by ambiguous, if not vindictive, federal policy. This serves only to paralyze economic progress at a time American families and job creators need it most.

The EPA's newfound hostility toward the silicones industry has no justification, is not in the best interests of science and is not in the best interest of American consumers, workers or downstream users of silicone products.  Rather than pursue a regulatory campaign that harms both job creators and consumers, the EPA should accept the pragmatic solution on the table.

The signatories of the letter include: Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus Association, American Commitment, Big Government, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Citizen Outreach, Competitive Enterprise Institute, ConservativeHQ, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Florida Center-Right Coalition, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Human Events, Independent Women's Forum, Institute for Liberty, Less Government, Liberty Guard, National Center for Public Policy Research, Smart Business Hawaii, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, Tea Party Nation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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