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"Dr. Beverly Wright urges Vitter to release hold on EPA nominee Dr. Paul Anastas"
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The following is a copy of a letter sent by Dr. Beverly Wright on October 2, 2009 to U.S. Senator David Vitter urging his support of the nomination of Dr. Paul Anastas for the position of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development. DSCEJ has called on other organizations to join them in urging Vitter's support.
Dear Senator Vitter:
As Louisiana residents and leaders of organizations that are dedicated to ensuring a healthy environment for all people, we urge you to release your hold on the nomination of Dr. Paul Anastas for the position of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development. We also urge you to end your obstruction of the Environmental Protection Agency's process for establishing a safety standard based on the health and environmental risks of formaldehyde.
Dr. Anastas has worked with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice on issues related to the reduction of toxic chemicals and toxic chemical exposures for over five years. He has shown great concern for the people of Louisiana, including children who are especially vulnerable to the severe health effects of toxic exposures.
Our state needs a person like Dr. Anastas to lead innovative scientific research that can usher in safe alternatives to the extant manufacturing of toxic chemicals that harm our health and threaten the places that we call home. Louisiana has lost five historic African American communities as a result of toxic chemical manufacturing. The communities of Reveilletown, Morrisonville, Sunrise, Diamond, and Bel Air were founded at the turn of the 19th century along the Mississippi River Corridor and near the Calcasieu Estuary. Beginning in the 1990's, the residents of these communities have relocated to avoid the harmful pollution released by numerous petrochemical companies. Where homes, churches, playgrounds, and small businesses once existed in these communities you will now find vacant lots and expanded industrial facilities.
Across the state, we are helping our neighbors to avoid a similar fate by finding solutions to environmental hazards that threaten their communities. We are disappointed to find that you have taken the unconscionable position to deter action by the Environmental Protection Agency that can better protect our health, environment, and communities.
Your office recently acknowledged that your hold on the nomination of Dr. Anastas has nothing to do with his superior qualifications, but everything to do with opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to issue a draft environmental standard regarding formaldehyde (Jonathon Tilove, EPA Nomination Held Up Amidst Debate Over Formaldehyde Risks, THE TIMES PICAYUNE, September 24, 2009). For more than ten years, the Environmental Protection Agency has conducted research on the health and environmental risks of formaldehyde. You now want to impose a process that would needlessly require additional years of study of formaldehyde risks. An unnecessarily protracted process would place more Americans in jeopardy of exposure to unsafe levels of formaldehyde, which have already threatened the health of Louisiana residents exposed to elevated levels of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. Louisiana presently has over 2,000 residents still living in FEMA trailers.
Senator Vitter, your decision to block the nomination of Dr. Anastas and obstruct the Environmental Protection Agency's work to set a safety standard for formaldehyde stands as a barrier to the healthy environment that the people of Louisiana and across America deserve. While companies dedicated to defending the status quo of emitting toxic pollution and manufacturing harmful products may be pleased with your decision, we are not.
PhD, Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice