Washington, D.C. – Nancy Beck, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), would endanger public health and safety, and her nomination should be rejected, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Public Citizen (PC) and more than 100 other groups said today in a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Beck’s confirmation hearing is today.
The CPSC is responsible for protecting consumers from hazards posed by more than 15,000 consumer products, including toys, household products, furniture, cribs and recreation equipment such as all-terrain vehicles. “Confirming Nancy Beck would leave a seasoned and aggressive fox guarding the henhouse – and responsible for the protection of children and consumers – for the next seven years,” the letter reads. “If confirmed, Nancy Beck would continue to block and oppose needed safety standards, but with even more power to do so.”
Most troublingly, according to some press reports, Beck recently contributed to suppressing the detailed guidelines that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to release to help the country reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Beck is neither a public health official, a medical doctor, an epidemiologist nor a virologist – and thus has no expert basis for playing any role in the development or release of the guidelines.
As an official at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the past three years, and now on detail to the White House, Beck has been the architect of numerous policies that weaken or roll back protections from toxic chemicals – increasing risks to first responders, children and vulnerable communities.
One of Beck’s first actions at the EPA was to block a proposed ban on methylene chloride in paint strippers. In the two years that followed, four people died after using paint strippers. Beck also failed to take measures to protect drinking water from contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). She failed to limit PFAS in consumer products or provide information to communities about discharges into the local environment – measures that have been urged by a bipartisan group of senators, representatives, governors, local officials, EPA staff and the public.
Another Beck policy would have ignored potential exposure to asbestos and lead in homes, buildings and schools across the country when evaluating how much of a danger they pose to public health. Beck also has blocked the EPA from prohibiting the use of the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, which several states have banned and is under review by a federal court.
In addition, she overrode the EPA’s science and legal staff to rewrite the agency’s policies for evaluating toxic chemicals, directing staff to ignore potential exposure from drinking water, air pollution and contaminated soil – a policy that excludes the most vulnerable communities from protection. The respected National Academies of Science found that chemical evaluations produced under Beck’s oversight “strayed from basic risk assessment principles,” resulting in draft evaluations that were “unscientific,” “misleading,” riddled with “mistakes and inconsistencies,” and “generally lacking in ability to present a coherent picture of” worker risks.
Confirming Beck into a position of such public trust, where she could slow down, weaken and block safety standards, would harm families and communities across the country, the groups maintain. They are urging the committee to reject Beck’s nomination.
Contact: Rachel Weintraub, 202-939-1012