Tim Pearce – Energy Reporter on 11/17/2017
University of Cincinnati professor and toxicologist Michael Dourson may be the first Trump nominee to be rejected by the Senate, The Washington Post reports.
Dourson is nominated to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top chemical safety official. Democrats changed confirmation rules and lowered the threshold to confirm most nominees to 50 votes in November 2013. As a result, Democrats are now powerless to block nominees by themselves.
Two Republican senators have sworn to oppose Dourson’s confirmation, however, leaving Republicans with the thinnest margin possible of 50 votes to confirm the professor, according to WaPo.
North Carolina’s two GOP senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, have vowed to oppose Dourson for the nominee’s ties to chemical companies he worked for as a consultant. While consulting for the companies and studying the potential health risks for their products, Dourson’s research found the chemicals safe at significantly higher quantities higher than the EPA, WaPo reports.
“I will not be supporting the nomination of Michael Dourson. With his record and our state’s history of contamination at Camp Lejeune as well as the current Gen X water issues in Wilmington, I am not confident he is the best choice for our country,” Burr said, according to WaPo.
Dourson worked for the EPA as a toxicologist and supervisor from 1980 to 1994.
Dourson developed, then improved, the EPA’s database for finding, characterizing and tracking the dangers of chemicals in the environment. The database is open for public use and referenced by scientists, government agencies and environmental groups, according to the Center for Accountability in Science.
“Dr. Dourson is an outstanding scientist whose career in toxicology spans nearly forty years, the early half of which with the EPA itself in critical positions of science, policy and administration,” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology journal Editor-in-Chief Dr. Gio Batta Gori wrote in a letter endorsing Dourson.