Biden admin probed after Fox News Digital shows it may have fabricated paper trail to shutter chemical plant

House Republican leaders on the Science, Space and Technology Committee are probing the Biden administration over its apparent actions fabricating a paper trail in pursuit of a chemical plant shutdown in Louisiana. Environment Subcommittee Chair Max Miller, R-Ohio, and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chair Brian Babin, R-Texas, penned a letter Wednesday to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, requesting more information about his agency’s actions preceding the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against synthetics manufacturer Denka Performance Elastomer (DPE) in early 2023. The federal lawsuit seeks to compel DPE’s manufacturing facility in LaPlace, Louisiana, to massively reduce its emissions of the chemical chloroprene in accordance with the standard determined to be safe by a 2010 study. DPE has argued for a more updated scientific review of chloroprene emissions, an action local EPA officials said it would pursue in 2021 before the EPA’s federal Office of Research and Development (ORD) intervened. “Officials in EPA’s Office of Research and Development may have violated scientific integrity policies by influencing EPA’s Region 6 Office to withdraw a request for a scientific review of the cancer risk assessment in the 2010 Toxicology Review of Chloroprene under EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System Program,” Miller and Babin wrote in their letter to Regan. FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY UNLEASHES ON BIDEN FOR HALTING KEY NATURAL GAS PROJECTS The lawmakers’ letter cites a Fox News Digital report which uncovered deposition testimony from Michael Morton, who serves as EPA Region 6 science liaison to ORD, stating that he didn’t author a July 2021 email sent from his email address to federal officials calling off a review of chloroprene. Months earlier, in April 2021, Region 6 nominated chloroprene for review to revisit its assessment of the chemical’s health risks. Morton told defense lawyers representing DPE in the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice during deposition in November that he was unaware of who authored the email sent from his email address. ENVIRONMENTALISTS CALL ON BIDEN ADMIN TO TANK NATURAL GAS PROJECT AMID NATIONWIDE ARCTIC BLAST “I didn’t write that,” Morton told counsel. “I didn’t say that. For – for that part, I didn’t – I don’t know that, so I don’t know who wrote that,” he added when pressed on the July 2021 email. In addition to Morton’s testimony, DPE counsel submitted in court filings metadata of his email showing it was originally authored by ORD officials. The revelations suggest that, to walk back the nomination of chloroprene, ORD cited an email purportedly from Region 6, but which it appears to have actually crafted and sent to itself using Morton’s email address. If EPA had moved forward with the nomination of chloroprene and engaged with new research, though, its eventual lawsuit targeting DPE’s LaPlace facility may have been derailed. “Based on this evidence alone, it appears that ORD officials, in an apparent effort to build a fabricated scientific record, authored the email withdrawing the request for scientific review on behalf of Region 6, which had previously determined a scientific review necessary,” Miller and Babin continued in their letter. “This practice is otherwise known as ‘ghostwriting.'” BIDEN ADMIN ABRUPTLY REVERSES PROPOSAL OPENING PUBLIC LANDS TO FOREIGN OWNERSHIP AFTER GOP OPPOSITION “Additionally, because this ghost-written email was sent several weeks after the chloroprene nomination was rejected, the actions undertaken by ORD officials appear to be a retroactive attempt to provide scientific rationales and may have been an action to silence scientific opinions of chloroprene that differ from the Agency’s public position,” they wrote. The Republican lawmakers added that the revelations “raise serious concerns that could amount to a violation” of EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy which prohibits “all EPA employees, including scientists, managers, and other Agency leadership, from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.” Further, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Scientific Integrity Policy states that “scientists’ ability to freely voice the legitimate disagreement that improves science should not be constrained.” ENERGY DEVELOPER AXING KEY COAL POWER PLANTS TO MEET ECO GOALS, JEOPARDIZING POWER FOR MILLIONS Miller and Babin demanded answers to a series of questions posed to Regan and additionally asked for the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General to conduct a review of the matter. EPA declined to comment, citing pending litigation in the case. Meanwhile, if the Justice Department’s lawsuit is successful, it could threaten the future operations of the DPE’s LaPlace facility — the so-called Pontchartrain Works Site which represents the only U.S. plant to produce neoprene, a synthetic rubber common in military equipment, wetsuits and medical technology — and set a precedent broadly threatening the multi-billion-dollar U.S. petrochemical industry.  Overall, the multi-billion-dollar petrochemical industry in Louisiana is a key driver of jobs and investment in the state. The industry is also a central reason why the state is the third-largest consumer of petroleum and largest consumer of petroleum per capita in the nation, according to the Energy Information Administration. However, the petrochemical industry has long been target of environmentalists who argue it is responsible for harmful emissions and pollution negatively impacting surrounding communities’ health.
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