April 9, 2009


The Honorable Frank R. Lautenberg, Chairman


The Honorable Arlen Specter, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Lautenberg and Ranking Member Specter:


We are concerned physicians, scientists, and citizens writing to you from a range of communities and organizations regarding the need to improve health protections in the United States and the broader global community. As leaders of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works you have oversight responsibilities regarding our nation's efforts to protect our natural environment, and the health of people as it is affected by our environment.


In 2009 there are few people who deny that harm to human health can be caused by environmental contamination of air and water and other poisonous exposures.  It is no longer a matter of "environmental enthusiasts" versus the nation's economic engine, but rather an urgent public health matter involving the prevention of thousands of illnesses and deaths each year. Exposure to hazardous chemicals poses an acute public health problem manifest in escalating rates of asthma, childhood cancer, and other serious health problems in the United States.


Your work on the Subcommittee includes oversight of the U.S. EPA, our nation's lead agency on environmental protections affecting human health. Recent Congressional hearings identified numerous ethical problems at the Agency. We are concerned that inappropriate influence by special interests could divert attention and resources from critical needs, such as timely action on hazardous chemicals, energy-related pollution, and equitable enforcement of environmental laws.


Campaign contributions have been made to all subcommittee members by companies engaged in activities that are substantially impacted by the U.S. EPA's actions (please see attached page). While such donations are entirely legal, there are legitimate concerns regarding political influence and access. We are confident that you will serve with honor and dedication in your Congressional service. We request that you regularly meet with those who are working for improved environmental health protections in order to balance special interest arguments against stronger protections. It is in our nation's best and guiding interest that diverse voices be heard on these important issues. We appreciate and applaud the fact that some Subcommittee members have welcomed a diversity of thinking on these critical issues, often taking national and global leadership roles on environmental and public health protections.


Our shared goals include insuring the safety of water, air, soil, and food supplies through careful management and protection of essential resources. We believe that you share these goals, by virtue of your participation on the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health in the US Senate. We look forward to observing your oversight and efforts to move the country forward on environmental issues of critical importance to us all, and hence to the entire world.


Respectfully submitted by the following individuals and organizations*


Michael Harbut, M.D., MPH.

Co-Director, National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers,

Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University

Chief, Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Royal Oak, MI



Kathleen Burns, Ph.D.



Lexington, MA.



James Huff, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Chemical Carcinogenesis,

National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences

Research Triangle Park, NC


Ronald Melnick, Ph.D.

Toxicologist (Independent).

Retired - National Toxicology Program

National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences

Research Triangle Park, NC

Judy Braiman

Executive Director

Empire State Consumer Project, Rochester, NY



Joel Kupferman, J.D.

Executive Director

New York Environmental Law and Justice Project

New York, NY





* Affiliations are provided for identification and do not imply institutional endorsement.


** Drs. Harbut and Burns are the recommended contacts for this letter.

Mike Harbut: e-mail: m1har [at] aol.com

Kathy Burns: e-mail: info [at] sciencecorps.org



Judith Anderson

Environmental Action Group of Western New York

Buffalo, NY


Elaine Barron, M.D.

National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee

EPA Clean Air Advisory Committee

El Paso, TX


Ronald Blum M.D.

American Academy of Family Practitioners

American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Patten, ME


Beth Burrows

President and Director

Edmonds Institute

Edmonds, WA


David Carpenter, M.D.

Director, Institute for Health and the Environment

State University of New York at Albany

Rensselear, NY


Theo Colburn, Ph.D.


The Endocrine Exchange

Boulder, CO


Joseph Cosgrove


Godley Public Water District

Godley, IL


John Cunningham

College Student (Law Enforcement)

Bedford, MA


Mao Da

Visiting Scholar

University of Houston Environmental History Program

(From Beijing Normal University)

Houston, TX

Christopher Gavigan

Chief Executive Officer

Healthy Child Healthy World

Los Angeles, CA


James R. Garb, M.D.

Fellow, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Yarmouth Port, MA 


Meleah Geertsma, J.D., M.P.H.

Staff attorney and public health specialist

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Chicago IL,


David F. Goldsmith, MSPH, Ph.D.

Dept of Environmental & Occupational Health

George Washington University

Washington DC


Joseph Hennager

President and Chief Executive Officer

Blue Planet Green Living

Iowa City, IA


Rick Hind

Legislative Director


Washington, D.C.


J. William Hirzy, Ph.D.

Vice President National Technical Employees Union 280

(Represents U.S. EPA Professional Employees)

Chemist in Residence at American University

Washington, D.C.


Eckardt Johanning, M.D., M.Sc.

Medical Director

Occupational and Environmental Life Science

Albany, NY

Lin Katz Cherry, Ph.D.

Indiana Toxics Action

Gary, IN


Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Head of the Technology Transfer for Sustainable Industrial Development Project

Research Fellow at Sustainable Policy Institute

Islamabad, Pakistan


Pamela LaBrake

Lindane Association

Schenectady, NY


Cecile A. Lawrence  J.D.  M.A.   

Binghamton NY


Robin S. Martinez  J.D.    

Environmental Justice Committee 

National Lawyers Guild

Liberty MO 


Emmanuel S. Massawe,

Acting Executive Director,

Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team

Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.


Georgia Miller

Nanotechnology Project Coordinator

Friends of the Earth



Pamela K. Miller

Executive Director

Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Anchorage, AK


Yusto P. Muchuruza
Executive Director

Kagera Development and Credit Revolving Fund
Bukoba, Tanzania

M. Suzanne Murphy,

Executive Director

Worksafe, Inc.

Oakland, CA 94607


Ellady Muyambi

Secretary General,

Uganda Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control

Kampala, Uganda


Audrey Newcomb

Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides

Rochester, NY


Rory O'Neill


Editor, Hazards, UK Trades Union Council

London, UK


Bill Owens


Glynn Environmental Coalition,

Brunswick, GA


Daniel Parshley

Project Manager

Glynn Environmental Coalition,

Brunswick, GA


Sharyle Patton,


Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center

Bolinas, CA.


Maria Powell, PhD

Research Director

Nanotechnology Citizen Engagement Organization

Madison, WI 53704

Matt Prindiville

Toxics and Sustainable Production

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Augusta, ME  


Linda Reinstein


Asbestos Disease Advocacy Organization

Redondo Beach, CA


John Paul Rossie, MA, MS, MBA
Executive Director
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association

Littleton, CO

Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A.


Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.,

Industrial Hygienist

New York City, NY


Abel Russ 

Environmental Justice Committee                                                          

National Lawyers Guild

South Royalton VT`                                


Michael A Santoro, M.D., MPH

Medical Director, Occupational Medicine and MEND Orthopedics

Northwest Hand Specialists

Seattle, WA


Dr. Paul Saoke

Executive Director

Physicians for Social Responsibility of Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya


Cynthia Sauer

Corydon, IN


Joseph Sauer, M.D.


Corydon, IN

Theodore Schettler, M.D.

Science Director

Science and Environmental Health Network

Ames, IA


Alice and Philip Shabecoff


Authors of "Poisoned Profits" (Random House)

Brookline, MA


Christine Shahin

Member, Just Green Coalition

Newport, NY


Marriam V. Tolman

College Student (Nursing)

Lansing, MI


Barbara Warren
Executive Director
Citizens' Environmental Coalition
Albany, NY 12210

Julia Wasson


Blue Planet Green Living,

Iowa City, IA


Jeff Weidenhamer, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry and Chair, Department of Chemistry, Geology & Physics

Ashland University
Ashland, OH  44805


Laura S Welch M.D.

Medical Director

The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring MD


Steven Wing, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina

Research Triangle Park, NC



* Affiliations are provided for identification and do not imply institutional endorsement.

Membership of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, Committee on Environment and Public Works




Max Baucus of Montana

Barbara Boxer of California

Christopher Bond of Missouri

Mike Crapo of Idaho

Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

James Inhofe of Oklahoma

Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey

Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island



Numerous companies that produce or use large quantities of hazardous chemicals, materials, and polluting fuels made campaign contributions to Subcommittee members during 2008, including PACs for Monsanto, Dow, Eastman Chemical, Exxon, General Electric Plastics, Occidental Petroleum, Mobil, Zeneca and many others. Associations established by companies, such as the American Chemical Council, and firms that conduct legal and public relations work on behalf of the companies also made donations. In addition, contributions to political parties are distributed to party candidates. These actions are legal, and public disclosures of contributions are reported by the federal government.




Detailed contribution data & complete PAC titles are available at two federal government websites that were relied upon in the preparation of this letter:


Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Reports & Data http://www.fec.gov/disclosure.shtml


Senate Office of Public Records http://www.senate.gov/legislative/Public_Disclosure/LDA_reports.htm




Senator Richard Durbin, Illinois, Co-Sponsor with Senator Arlen Specter of the Fair Elections Bill, March 2009


Senator Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions


Senator Barbara Boxer, California, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.