09 September 2003 23:12 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--A US environmental group accused the Bush administration Tuesday of trying to undermine European Union (EU) efforts to implement the proposed chemicals regulatory program known as Reach.
The Boston, Massachusetts-based Environmental Health Fund (EHF) charged in a report today that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Departments of Commerce and State along with the US Trade Representative (USTR) are part of "a wide-ranging campaign … on behalf of the chemical industry to weaken EU chemical policy reforms."
EHF alleges that those Bush administration agencies and the chemical industry are trying to "interfere" with EU development of its Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) program.
The proposed EU Reach program would require the chemicals industry to conduct tests on some 30 000 chemicals to determine their basic health and environmental data. Chemical industry officials in the EU and US oppose the program on grounds of functionality and cost among other reasons.
EHF said it has obtained US government internal documents that reveal "a chilling picture of how the Bush administration is intervening in the regulatory process of sovereign nations at the behest of the [chemicals] industry."
Joe DiGangi, an EHF official and author of the report, charged that the documents obtained "show the US government essentially operated as a branch office of the chemical industry" to intervene against the EU's Reach program.
DiGangi called for a full investigation by the US Congress into "corporate influence over government actions … and the objectives of US foreign policy."
Along with announcement of the report, EHF said that more than 70 health care organisations and environmental groups have co-signed a letter to President George W Bush asking him to stop pressing EU officials to ease proposed chemical testing requirements.
Officials a the White House and the Commerce Department were not immediately available for comment late Tuesday.
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