Key Findings

  • In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency was poised to cite evidence of cancer risks in hexavalent chromium, a chemical compound found in tap water – likely presaging stricter drinking water standards. 
  • Yet a special EPA panel urged the agency to delay action – citing, among other issues, pending research by the American Chemistry Council, a trade association. The EPA agreed to put off action. 
  • Three of the EPA panelists urging delay had worked on behalf of PG&E, a California power company accused of polluting waters with hexavalent chromium, The Center for Public Integrity found. 
  • The EPA panelists were selected by a private company under contract with the agency. Under its own rules, the EPA does not see conflict of interest forms filed by prospective panelists – potentially leaving it in the dark. 
  • As she leaves office, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is pushing new rules to allow more public input on panelists for the agency’s peer review committees.