WASHINGTON - The Senate voted July 19 to confirm John Graham as the government's regulatory czar, putting a strong supporter of the plastics industry's views on environmental regulation in a key government post.
The Senate voted 61-37 to make Graham the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, effectively the government's gatekeeper on new regulations. Graham founded the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at Harvard University, where he argued that some environmental regulations cost much more than the benefits they bring.
Opposition to Graham was led by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who said Graham ``opposes virtually all environmental regulations.''
``He believes that many environmental regulations do more harm than good,'' Durbin said. ``Dr. Graham's so-called objective research is actually heavily influenced by policy consideration, and he has had a built-in bias that favors the interest of his industrial sponsors.''
Graham's center receives funding for research from the nation's largest chemical companies and is currently working on a risk assessment of styrene for the Styrene Information and Research Center in Arlington, Va.
Graham supporters such as Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., said opponents have decided to attack Graham's integrity. Graham has supported pollution controls at coke plants, phaseouts of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer and requirements for low-sulfur diesel fuel, Thompson said.
``Dr. Graham believes that environmental policy should be grounded in science, however, and examined for cost-effectiveness,'' Thompson said.