Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), just days after leading the Senate in passing an amendment to overturn the Global Gag Rule, joined Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in placing a preliminary hold on Stephen Johnson, President Bush’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator. At issue is a proposed study of the effects of pesticides on children, in which families that use significant quantities of pesticides in Florida were offered money, clothing, and a video camera to tape their children’s movements. Johnson is a career scientist with the EPA’s pesticide division who has been acting administrator since Michael Leavitt left in January, according to the New York Times. The American Chemistry Council, a trade organization, contributed $2 million to the study, which could have resulted in weakening standards protecting children from exposure to pesticides, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“The EPA is trying to exploit the poor people in my district for their Tuskegee-like studies to determine what pesticides do to infants and toddlers in Duval County, Florida,” said Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL). “We should not be playing Russian roulette with our children’s lives.”
The study has been suspended, and Senator Boxer told the NY Times, “Until it’s canceled, I will do anything I can to stop this nomination … This program is the worst kind of thing; it’s environmental injustice where children are the victims.”