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Public Comments -- Animal Legal Defense Fund

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stakeholder contact points vstanley@dc.infi.net on 01/07/2000 02:32:13 PM

To: stakeholders@epa.gov
Subject: comments on policy on public participation

By Facsimile to (202) 560-5478 and Electronic Mail to stakeholders@epa.gov

January 7, 2000

Deborah Dalton
Deputy Director
Office of Policy and Reinvention
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C.

Re: Comments on Changes to the 1981 Policy on Public Participation

Dear Ms. Dalton:

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) review of its policy on public participation. ALDF is a non-profit organization of 70,000 members comprised of attorneys, law students, paralegals, and others dedicated to ensuring that the interests of animals are properly considered at all levels of government.

ALDF supports and adds its name to the comments submitted by Jessica Sandler on behalf of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In addition, ALDF would like to add the following comments for EPA's consideration.

First, ALDF seriously questions the importance of revising EPA's policy on public participation. Laws governing EPA, such as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), are clear on how the EPA must notify and involve the public when undergoing rule-making or other forms of decision-making by the agency. The APA, 7 U.S.C. 551 et seq., requires EPA to provide notice and comment of rule-making and to publish its proposed and final actions in the Federal Register. Likewise, TSCA, 15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., requires EPA to give all interested parties the opportunity to submit information to the agency concerning toxic substances and that EPA must publish all rules and findings in the Federal Register. See TSCA 4(b)(5), 15 U.S.C. 2603(b)(5). EPA does not need a "policy" on public participation; it simply needs to follow the law, something that it has failed to do.

ALDF would like to stress how the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances' High Production Volume (HPV) chemical testing program came about and how incompatible it was with EPA's policy on public participation in addition to the law itself. In its original form, the HPV program would have implemented the largest-ever animal testing program. Similar to PETA, ALDF did not learn of the HPV program until shortly before the first stakeholders' meeting in December of 1998. Much to our surprise, no notice was given of this meeting in the Federal Register nor was any public participation considered when EPA adopted this program. To date, no notice has ever been published in the Federal Register concerning the substance of the HPV program. The HPV program was created without public participation and with only two interested parties: the Environmental Defense Fund and the Chemical Manufacturers Association. This flies in the face of EPA's duties under the APA of notice and comment as well as its 1981 policy to confer with the public early in the decision-making process and to create equal and open access for interested and affected parties. Despite the fact that the HPV program was going to involve the suffering and/or death of hundreds of thousands of animals, no animal protection groups were considered, much less consulted or involved when the HPV program was first planned.

Second, EPA has the legal duty to recognize the diverse, yet equally credible, number of interested parties when it seeks to implement any policy. The interests of the animal protection organizations have the right to be given equal opportunity to be heard and their opinions considered. EPA has met the animal protection community with nothing but hostility since the beginning of the HPV program. The Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances has failed to seriously abide by EPA's public participation policy that agency officials are to avoid advocacy and precommitment to any particular decision and to actively facilitate resolution among disagreeing interests.

If you have any questions or require further information, we may be reached at the address and phone number on the letterhead. ALDF looks forward to working with EPA to ensure EPA abides by its legal duty to provide for public participation in its decision-making efforts.


Valerie J. Stanley
Senior Staff Attorney

Nancy Brown-Kobil
Staff Attorney

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