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Report: EPA Cuts Could Boost Stricter European Chemical Standards

A provision in President Donald Trump's budget proposal could inadvertently lead to harsher international standards for chemical companies, a consultant warned last week.

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A provision in President Donald Trump's budget proposal could inadvertently lead to harsher international standards for chemical companies, a consultant warned last week.

Daniella Taveau, a chemical and pesticide expert with the Washington, D.C., office of King & Spalding, told Bloomberg that eliminating a U.S. program examining hormone-disrupting chemicals could pave the way for broader adoption of a harsher program backed by some European nations.

The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program is one of dozens of Environmental Protection Agency programs reportedly on the chopping block in Trump's budget. The preliminary document calls for a 31 percent cut in EPA funding and a 19 percent reduction in the agency's workforce; details on specific cuts are scheduled to be released in May.

Bloomberg reported that the program, which received $7.5 million in the 2016 fiscal year, provides an initial screening of chemicals before conducting more detailed tests for substances that could affect the endocrine system.

It is also risk-based, which requires authorities to determine an exposure threshold for potentially harmful effects.

Denmark, France and Sweden are among EU nations that instead back a hazard-based approach, which would not mandate an exposure threshold. Taveau warned that without the U.S. program, a hazard-based approach could gain favor internationally.

Trump vowed to curb the EPA — and business regulations overall — during his bid for the presidency, but Taveau suggested that the endocrine disruptor program and other EPA initiatives are actually supported by industry.

As environmental and health groups warned of dire consequences from slashing the EPA budget, the American Chemistry Council said that it is committed to ensuring that the agency can carry out its "essential responsibilities."

“Ensuring the safe development, use and disposal of chemicals in commerce is a top priority for our industry," the ACC told Bloomberg in a statement. "We encourage Congress and the administration to implement a national budget that ensures that the best available science and transparency are at the heart of agency decision making.”

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, previously suggested that the initial EPA cuts were unlikely to survive the appropriations process.

“There’s not that much in the EPA, for crying out loud,” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told The Washington Post early this month.

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