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The Toxic Substances Control Act:
from the perspective of Linda J. Fisher

  • Born: November 16, 1952, Saginaw, Michigan

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0645
Interview Date: March 5, 2010
Locations: E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Washington, D.C.
Interviewers: Jody A. Roberts and Kavita D. Hardy
No. of pages: 35
Minutes: 67

  Abstract of Interview

Linda J. Fisher was the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances; at the time when she became the Assistant Administrator, the Office was primarily focused on pesticides. But, as Fisher recounted, the Office was committed to making the toxics program succeed, often by working around the Toxic Substances Control Act's (TSCA) statutory obligations. 

While there was some Congressional oversight, there was no public or Congressional force for a reauthorization of the act in the early 1990s. The Office was then given increased responsibilities with the Pollution Prevention Act. This did not replace TSCA's role in the toxics program, but the Office did reallocate its limited resources accordingly. After the Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA case, and the administration's decisions not to appeal, Fisher chose not to pursue a revised asbestos rule because, from her perspective, the industry was changing too quickly and, for the most part, moving out of asbestos. The failure of the asbestos rule was extremely demoralizing to the Office, and created an insurmountable barrier to using Section 6, but the Office continued to be productive in its pollution prevention activities, voluntary measures, and international cooperation. 

Fisher believes that difficulties in implementing TSCA were rooted in the law's lack of direction, but that since TSCA was written, the way Congress writes laws has matured. She also believes that a reauthorized TSCA will address the issues of a base set of data and confidential business information and that a stronger TSCA is necessary to accompany the voluntary and pollution prevention measures currently in place. She emphasizes that regulation should address exposures where they occur, whether in the manufacturing process or in products.

  Education

1974 B.A., History, Miami University of Ohio
1978 M.B.A. George Washington University
1982 J.D. Ohio State University

  Professional Experience

U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

1974 - 1976

Legislative Assistant to Representative Clarence J. Brown

U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

1976 - 1978

Legislative Assistant to Representative Ralph S. Regula

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Washington, D.C.

1979 - 1980

Associate Staff Member

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

1983 - 1984

Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste
and Emergency Response

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

1985 - 1988

Chief of Staff to the Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

1988 - 1989

Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy, Planning and
Evaluation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

1989 - 1993

Assistant Administrator, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and
Toxic Substances

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

2001 - 2003

Deputy Administrator

Latham & Watkins LLP, Washington, D.C.

1993 - 1995

Attorney

The Monsanto Company, Washington, D.C.

1995 - 2000

Vice President, Government Affairs

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Washington, D.C.

2004 - present

Vice President, Safety, Health and Environment

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Washington, D.C.

2004 - present

Chief Sustainability Officer

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act 1

Congressional oversight. Reliance on voluntary measures. Lack of direction.

Growing 7

Pollution Prevention Act. TRI. Limited resources. Changes in statue
composition. Congressional oversight. Role of environmental community.

Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA and Beyond 10

Office demoralization. Administrative inaction. Limited rulemaking options. Shifting Office focus.

Toxic Substances Control Act Reform 16

Base set of data. CBI. Voluntary measures insufficient. Pressure for reform. Burden of proof. Addressing exposures. Need for command-and-control.

Index 27

  About the Interviewer

Jody A. Roberts

Jody A. Roberts is the Associate Director for the Center for Contemporary History and Policy and the Manager of the Environmental History and Policy Program at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Roberts received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Saint Vincent College. His research focuses on the intersections of regulation, innovation, environmental issues, and emerging technologies within the chemical sciences.

Kavita D. Hardy

Kavita D. Hardy is a research assistant in the Environmental History and Policy Program at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She received a B.A. in Chemistry and in Economics from Swarthmore College.

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