January 15, 2019

Duckworth Meets with EPA Director Nominee Andrew Wheeler Ahead of Senate Confirmation Hearing

Duckworth presses Wheeler on need to protect Illinoisans from cancer-causing ethylene oxide emissions & defend Renewable Fuel Standard


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today met with Andrew Wheeler, the nominee to be the Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to discuss how critical it is for the EPA to update its safety standards to protect communities in Illinois from cancer-causing ethylene oxide emissions. Duckworth also pressed Wheeler on the importance of protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard from efforts within the Trump Administration to undermine it and she asked him to designate the abandoned and hazardous Schroud Realty Group site on the Southside of Chicago as eligible for clean-up efforts as part of the Superfund program.

Duckworth is a member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and will question Wheeler as part of his Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow. Photos of their meeting are available online here and b-roll of their meeting is available online here.

“We know that ethylene oxide is a dangerous toxin that poses a public health risk for communities in Illinois. The EPA must act quickly to protect the public and it must ensure its review is free of conflict-of-interest issues,” said Duckworth. “I also made it clear that the next head of the EPA must oppose the efforts within the Trump Administration to weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard. I appreciate Acting Administrator Wheeler taking the time to meet today and look forward to more discussion of these issues during his confirmation hearing tomorrow.”

Duckworth has been a strong advocate for residents in Illinois communities that have been impacted by ethylene oxide emissions. She has repeatedly pressed the EPA to revise its emissions standards, has written to the FDA and OSHA to ask them to develop alternatives to ethylene oxide and revise worker safety standards to protect American workers, and she has introduced legislation to increase transparency surrounding chemicals that pose a public health crisis.

Duckworth has also been a vocal supporter of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which supports a $5 billion biofuel industry in Illinois that employs more than 4,000 people. She has joined farmers across Illinois in urging the EPA to adopt higher ethanol-based fuel requirements and she has been critical of efforts within the Trump Administration to undermine it and to grant waivers to profitable large oil refineries and allow them to avoid having to meet RFS requirements at a time when a growing number of ethanol plants are idling.