Monday, March 3, 2014

Witness List for EO 13650 Oversight Hearing

Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced the witness list for their Thursday oversight hearing on the President’s Improving Chemical Safety and Security Executive Order (EO 13650). The witnesses include:

• Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, US EPA;
• Rafael Moure-Eraso, Chairman, CSB;
• Michael P. Wilson, Chief Scientist, California Department of Industrial Relations;
• James S. Frederick, Assistant Director, United Steelworkers International Union;
• Evan P. Hansen, President, Downstream Strategies; and
• Billy Pirkle, Senior Director, Crop Production Services

Stanislaus is the EPA side of the Working Group triad of Administration overseers. I had suggested that all three of the co-chairs of the Working Group should appear, but that would probably been a little bit of overkill if all one were trying to do is to use this hearing as another platform for pushing ones environmental agenda.

It is interesting that the first panel pairs Stanislaus and More-Eraso. There is little love lost between the EPA and the CSB, so there will be some tension at the table. That is always good for hearing theatrics. It will also make for some interesting discussions about inherently safer technology. Moure-Earso is a proponent of mandating inherently safer technology (though with a somewhat wider definition of what that may entail than most environmental activists) and Stanislaus has been known to oppose IST (not on philosophical grounds, I don’t know where he stands there) but because his agency has little or no resources to enforce any such regulation.

In any case, this won’t be an EO 13650 oversight hearing, or at least not in any broad sense. It will most likely (looking at the witness list) pointedly address a single phrase in §7 of the EO:

The Working Group shall convene stakeholders, including chemical producers, chemical storage companies, agricultural supply companies, State and local regulators, chemical critical infrastructure owners and operators, first responders, labor organizations representing affected workers, environmental and community groups, and consensus standards organizations, in order to identify and share successes to date and best practices to reduce safety risks and security risks in the production and storage of potentially harmful chemicals, including through the use of safer alternatives [emphasis added], adoption of best practices, and potential public-private partnerships.

This would be a valuable discussion if there were a tad bit more balance in the presentation, though I hardly expect that from Sen. Boxer (D,CA).

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