The Trump administration's choice to head a key chemicals regulation office within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew from consideration Dec. 13 amid increased opposition among lawmakers.
Michael Dourson, a University of Cincinnati professor and consultant, had been named by President Trump to head the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
He had faced strong opposition from Democrats over what they described as too close ties to industry, but had passed a party line vote in a Senate committee in late October.
Still, his nomination began to look increasingly troubled in mid-November when Republican lawmakers started publicly opposing him, including North Carolina's two Republican Senators, who cited concerns over water contamination in the state and how the EPA would regulate that.
The top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the EPA, said in a statement the Dourson's ties to industry were a concern.
“Dr. Dourson, an individual who has spent most of his career promoting less protective chemical safety standards, had no business overseeing our nation's chemical safety laws,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). “It's become clear that, even with a Republican majority in the Senate, he could not be confirmed.”
Carper said the Trump administration should find an “independent, credible chemical safety regulator” to oversee implementation of the landmark reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which passed Congress by broad bipartisan margins in 2016.
Dourson's work as a consultant had included serving on an advisory panel to the American Chemistry Council on flame retardants, and serving on scientific panels that set safety levels for a fluoropolymer chemical.
In a Senate hearing, Dourson defended his work, and some Republicans on the panel criticized what they said had been overreach on the part of the EPA under President Obama.