By Julia Conley, Common Dreams
A Greenpeace investigation revealed Monday that the Biden administration appears sympathetic to oil and chemical industry giants — not the public, scientists, and public health advocates — regarding a push in Europe to curb the use of microplastics in everyday products.
According to a report by Unearthed, Greenpeace UK’s investigative journalism unit, a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named Karissa Kovner exchanged emails with the American Chemical Council (ACC) in April 2019 regarding a proposal by the Swiss government to list microplastic UV-328 in the Stockholm Convention, the UN’s global treaty on chemicals that don’t easily break down in nature.
UV-328’s inclusion in the treaty would lead to a ban on its production and use, which is currently common in plastic products, rubber, paints, coatings, and cosmetics, said Unearthed.
ACC officials forwarded an email to Kovner about the proposal, to which she said, “Wow — that’s quite a precedent. Holy moly.”
The ACC then told Kovner the Swiss government’s push is the “first concrete proposal” to label UV-328 as a persistent organic pollutant (POP).
“Welcome to our future,” Kovner said. Kovner’s comments were made when she was serving under former President Donald Trump, but she appears to still be leading the EPA’s work on chemicals under Biden; in late March she represented the EPA as a senior policy advisor for international affairs at the ACC’s GlobalChem conference.
“While you might expect Trump’s EPA to align with the oil and chemical industry against protections for the American people from potentially harmful plastic chemicals, the Biden administration must do better,” said John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA oceans campaign director. “As much of the world works to take action to address the impacts of the plastic pollution crisis, the U.S. government should be stepping forward to lead, not echoing the world’s worst polluters.”