Barbara Boxer as Erin Brockovich

It’s good to know that some senators are doing their research on President Bush’s nominees. Senator Boxer was the star of yesterday’s confirmation hearing for Stephen Johnson, Bush’s nominee to lead the EPA. She dug up information on a little-known program being sponsored by the EPA and the American Chemistry Council in Duval County, Florida.

The program targets low-income African-American families and asks parents to videotape their children crawling around a pesticide-infested environment (their homes). Scientists watch the tapes and regularly test the babies for pesticide exposure. In return, the families can keep the video camera and are paid $970 over two years.

This study, the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) also mandates that parents not be provided information about the proper ways to apply or store pesticides, and they cannot be informed of the risks of exposure to pesticides.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which numbers many pesticides manufacturers among its members, is paying $2 million to help sponsor this study. The ACC will have the chance to review the study’s findings prior to their release to the public as well.

Sen. Boxer responded to Johnson’s affirmation that the program had been suspended but not cancelled by saying, “… you should pull the plug on that program tomorrow and if you don’t, I’m going to do everything in my disposal to make that happen.” A single senator can hold up Johnson’s confirmation, and from Boxer’s remarks it appears that she is ready to take this one all the way.