EPA Administration/Chemical Regulation:
On Tuesday, October 25, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the resignation of Assistant Administrator Steve Owens. Readers will recall that President Obama appointed Mr. Owens the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), which is the office implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Pollution Prevention Act, and other federal laws concerning chemicals management. November 30, 2011, will be Mr. Owens’ last day in office before returning home to Arizona where he previously served as the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. It is unclear at this time who will assume Mr. Owen’s responsibilities and what effect his departure will have on EPA’s various chemicals management initiatives.
Mr. Owens served the EPA during a two-year period in which Congress, the courts, and various stakeholders engaged in vigorous debate and litigation over the appropriate regulation of chemicals in the United States. In a 2010 brown-bag session (available on podcast), sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know Committee, Mr. Owens discussed many of the initiatives the Agency was undertaking and some of the challenges it faced as it participated and attempted to shape the debate.
In a letter to EPA staff announcing his resignation, Mr. Owens said:
“I am writing to tell you that, after more than two years of working closely with all of you to protect Americans’ health and environment, I have made the difficult decision to leave EPA. My last day in the office will be November 30, 2011.
As many of you know, my family has remained in Arizona while I have been working at EPA headquarters in Washington. Although I have been able to get home to see my family periodically, I have essentially been away from them for more than two years. After a lot of hard thinking, we have decided that it is time for me to come home. My wife needs her husband; my sons need their father; and I need them.
While I am very happy that I will be back with my family, I will miss all of you greatly. It has been a true privilege to work with so many incredibly talented and dedicated people who are doing so much to protect the health and safety of the American people and our environment.
I am extremely grateful to Lisa Jackson for her wonderful friendship and the remarkable vision and leadership she provides to this Agency. We are truly fortunate that she is EPA’s Administrator.
As I said earlier, I will continue working alongside you all through November 30. Administrator Jackson will share additional information about the transition process shortly.
In closing, let me thank you so much for the friendship and support you have given me during my time at EPA. Please know how much I appreciate you and all that you are doing for our country.”