Agency Attempts to Block Scientific Assessments of Toxic Chemicals

1/29/2013

PRESS RELEASE
-For Immediate Release-
January 29, 2013

Contact: Brian Gumm, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org, 202-683-4812

Agency Attempts to Block Scientific Assessments of Toxic Chemicals

New Report Shows Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy Pushes Positions of Big Chemical Company Lobbyists

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2013—In a report released today, the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) documents attempts by the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration to thwart important agency assessments of chemical toxicity at the behest of lobbyists for large chemical companies. No actual small businesses requested these interventions, according to the materials the Center for Effective Government obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Specifically, the report, titled Small Businesses, Public Health, and Scientific Integrity: Whose Interests Does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration Serve?, reviewed the Office of Advocacy's activities regarding toxicity assessments by the Department of Health and Human Service's National Toxicology Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System of the cancer-causing potential of three substances: formaldehyde, styrene, and hexavalent chromium.

"In each case," said Randy Rabinowitz, Director of Regulatory Policy at the Center for Effective Government and one of the authors of the report, "the Office of Advocacy claimed that small businesses took issue with labeling these substances as known or suspected cancer-causing agents. We found no evidence that this was the case."

Rather than representing the views of small business owners, the Office of Advocacy actually advocated for positions that many small businesses oppose. A recent survey of small business owners showed that 75 percent supported "stricter regulation of chemicals produced and used in everyday products" and 92 percent said there should be "a public, easily accessible database identifying chemicals of high concern to human and environmental health."

The report calls for more oversight of the Office of Advocacy by Congress and Government Accountability Office investigations into whether the agency violated federal lobbying restrictions and Federal Advisory Committee Act provisions.

The full text of the report is available online at http://www.foreffectivegov.org/office-of-advocacy-report.

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The Center for Effective Government is dedicated to building an open, accountable government that invests in the common good, protects people and the environment, and advances the national priorities defined by an active, informed citizenry. Find the Center for Effective Government on Facebook and Twitter.


Late on Jan. 29, the American Sustainable Business Council released the following statement about Small Businesses, Public Health, and Scientific Integrity: Whose Interests Does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration Serve?:

This report by the Center for Effective Government clearly shows the need for transparency in government agencies and for public interest organizations to make sure that happens. It also reminds us that the good name of small businesses are constantly used by big special interests not only to advocate for positions beneficial for those special interests but for positions that are contrary to the real interests of small businesses. In this case the results of ASBC’s polling of independent businesses indicate that the majority of them do not support the positions that the Office of Advocacy has been promoting as small business views on the use of toxic chemicals. It is imperative that the actual voices of small businesses and their organizations be heard at all levels of policy debate to better guide government decisions toward a more sustainable, vibrant economy.

David Levine
Cofounder & CEO
American Sustainable Business Council