Jeff Stier

Canada’s clear, science-based statement on D5 was apparently not enough for the EPA. The agency is now insisting that industry pay for monitoring of 42 wastewater treatment sites to find traces of the chemical that remain in the water. Industry has offered to monitor five key locations near manufacturing facilities that would provide the information necessary to understand exposure levels at plants throughout the country, when considered together with the totality of findings from both Environment Canada and extensive monitoring overseen by the state of Oregon.

Yet despite the best available science, the EPA unnecessarily insists on the more wide-spread monitoring regime at a nearly ten-fold cost to industry, a move that could stunt job growth and innovation at facilities around the country. The money wasted on extra monitoring is money that would be spent better on, as the president put it, “innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.”

Why does the EPA insist on its approach? The answer isn't clear. According to Inside EPA, “Agency officials 'appear to want information across the entire spectrum of [a treatment system] variable, but it's not clear where that would be used or the value of it in the risk assessment,' the [industry] source adds.” The industry official told the publication that “It sort of came down to EPA saying we are going to ask for this because we want it.”

If the EPA doesn't get its way in negotiations, it could require mandatory testing on its own terms. In his piece in the Wall Street Journal, regulatory czar Sunstein wrote that “[o]ur goal is to change the regulatory culture of Washington by constantly asking what's working and what isn't. To achieve that goal, we need to obtain real-world evidence and data.”Add the EPA's bungling of its approach to silicone monitoring to the growing list of how the administration isn't living up to Sunstein's publicly-stated goal. Perhaps the administration's regard for rhetoric over regulatory overhauls explains Sunstein's sudden departure from one of the most powerful positions in government.

Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and directs its Risk Analysis Division. You can follow him on Twitter at @JeffAStier.