Bush To Appoint Coal Industry Champion To Head Consumer Safety Commission

charnley.jpgThroughout Bush’s presidency, the White House has used the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to put business interests over the public interest:

— Bush’s first CPSC chair, Harold Stratton, assured the business world that he would “break the barrier of fear” by making it more difficult to order product recalls.

— Bush’s nominee to replace Stratton, Michael Baroody, opposed asbestos regulations, highway safety reform, and government action to combat global warming.

— The current acting head, Nancy Nord, opposed Congressional efforts to strengthen the CPSC, even after millions of toys made in China were recalled this fall for containing dangerous levels of lead. Together, Nord and Stratton also took nearly 30 trips since 2002 at the expense of industries and companies the CPSC is supposed to regulate.

Apparently, Bush has not learned his lesson. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that the White House was considering nominating Gail Charnley to head the CPSC.

Besides being a consultant for the tobacco industry “from the early 1990s through 2001,” Charnley has a long history of shilling for coal:

— Charnley wrote a 2006 op-ed in the St. Louis Dispatch opposing restrictions on coal emissions. She was writing on behalf of coal-industry front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. [Washington Post, 1/26/08]

— Charnley lobbied state officials on behalf of Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED), another coal front group. “Her work involved telling state officials in Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, and who knows where else, that mercury from power plants is simply not the problem environmentalists are making it out to be.” [Pump Handle, 1/28/08]

Charnley has also consistently hidden her industry ties. In a 2004 letter to a technical journal about a study on human testing of pesticides, Charnley did not disclose that the study had been partly funded by pesticide makers.

She also neglected to disclose her work with CEED in a published article on WebMD’s Medscape on the risks of mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Nor did she reveal her relationship to the coal group when testifying to the Pennsylvania state senate on mercury emissions.

Like her predecessors at the CPSC, Charnley opposes government regulation at all costs. She dismisses the need to regulate environmental hazards to children’s health because “government agencies do not know which environmental exposures actually pose risks to children.” She also wrote that, since mercury emissions was a “global” problem, “limiting US power plant emissions alone will have little impact.”