The White House is gearing for a fight with Democrats over President Trump’s nomination of EPA official Nancy Beck to lead the Consumer Products Safety Commission, with supporters calling her a highly qualified nominee who’s committed to protecting the public.
“She’s always been about public health and targeting resources to where you can get real public-health impacts,” said Susan Dudley, director of the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, who worked with Ms. Beck in the George W. Bush administration. “She’s a great choice for that position.”
The president this week nominated Ms. Beck, who has a PhD in environmental health from the University of Washington, to chair the five-member commission that has jurisdiction over safety rules for thousands of consumer products, from coffee makers to lawn mowers. If confirmed by the Senate, her nomination would keep the agency under Republican control.
Ms. Beck is currently the principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said she “has served this nation with honor and integrity,” with duties ensuring “the smooth implementation” of the Toxic Substances Control Act that regulates new and existing chemicals.
Mr. Wheeler also said she was “integral in the development and enactment” of an action plan for protecting the public from chemicals known as PFAS in drinking water and the environment.
Democrats and environmental groups accuse her of working at EPA to roll back standards for protecting the environment from toxic chemicals. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., New Jersey Democrat, said Ms. Beck is the wrong choice to lead the CPSC, saying she has “a troubling record of doing the bidding of the chemical industry at the expense of the health and safety of the American public.”
Before joining the EPA, she also spent five years at the American Chemistry Council, the trade group for chemical companies. She has worked most of her career in the federal government, including in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
While she was at EPA, Mr. Pallone said, Ms. Beck “rewrote a rule to make it harder for the agency to track the health consequences” of a toxic chemical linked to cancer and birth defects.
“The CPSC needs a strong and nimble leader who will restore consumers’ trust that the Commission is working to protect them not to bolster industry profits, and Dr. Beck is not that leader,” he said.
But Ms. Dudley said her former colleague is “a well-respected PhD toxicologist who knows the ins and outs of the regulatory process.”
“She has had a long career as a civil servant in both federal and state government, where she has worked to improve transparency and ensure decision-makers have the best evidence available when setting policies,” she said.