Title and Description Page
Education, Previous Experience, and Beginning at Environmental Protection Agency 1
Master’s degree in nuclear engineering from California Institute of Technology. Two summers at Argonne National Laboratory. Foreign Service Officer. US Agency for International Development. Marine Science and Technology Council in Office of the Vice President. Asked to manage Office of Toxic Substances, just forming in 1973. Four tasks: ensure prompt passage of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) passed; deal with chemical of the month; help Office of Air and Water deal with toxics under their legislative authorities, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; and upgrade data throughout EPA, especially testing data. Also had to build new office. TSCA mostly already written by J. Clarence Davies and President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Four offices with deputies reporting to administrators; all worked together toward common goal; viz., preventing and reducing exposure to dangerous chemicals. EPA Steering Committee. Schweitzer’s staff small but with significant input.
Using TSCA 2
TSCA is law to fill regulatory gaps. Potential impact of EPA on economy. Necessity for cost/benefit analysis. Four years visiting chemical companies to gather information. Implications of using Section 6 to complement Clean Air, Clean Water, or other authorities. Unreasonable risk as a useful criterion. Asbestos. Quotes Charles Elkins’s regret that EPA did not appeal asbestos decision. Section 8(e) as an important provision of TSCA. Putting burden of testing and notifying EPA on manufacturers. System relies in part on conscientiousness, but with penalties for noncompliance, and protects intellectual property. EPA as implementer, with serious penalties.
Working with Other Agencies 9
Interagency Testing Committee (ITC) established: Health and Human Services (HHS); Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); EPA. EPA’s role to choose chemicals; ITC’s role to prioritize, test, and evaluate. Schweitzer believed EPA did not play decisive role in human health; wanted National Institutes of Health involved. Thought EPA should lead on environmental matters. Congress not very interested. Environmentalists ambivalent. Minor disagreements on wording; every change required Congressional approval. Office of Management and Budget.
EPA’s Successes and Missteps 13
Major success with simultaneous regulation of chlorofluorocarbon aerosols (CFC) by EPA, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), FDA. Persuaded CEOs of vinyl chloride producers to agree to reduce emissions by eighty percent in three months. Passage of TSCA. Briefing for new administrators when President Carter took office. Schweitzer sent to Cornell University to make way for political appointees. Spent two years revisiting chemical producers; found TSCA had made huge difference: more qualified people, more testing initiatives, more oversight by Boards of Directors. After two years appointed Director of Environmental Systems Laboratory in Las Vegas. Many important problems: acid rain; Love Canal; Three Mile Island; Dallas smelters; dioxin in Times Beach, Missouri; nuclear attack threats at Los Angeles Olympic Games. After leaving TSCA dealt mostly with Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Superfund, and pesticides. Las Vegas office responsible for quality assurance of measurements throughout the agency, crucial in monitoring chemicals.
General Thoughts 20
TSCA’s credibility diminished by delay in passage of bill. States and companies eager to cooperate. Section 6 proponents divided. Section 6 is important since it addresses transportation, handling, labeling, and restrictions on production. TSCA should not be amended for the sake of amendment. Two weak arguments for amending are (a) hasn’t been amended in thirty-five years, and (b) market needs stability which might be achieved to a limited degree by amendments. TSCA requires comprehensive examination of chemicals.