Debbie Raphael, Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), abruptly resigned not long before the publication of this report. Her resignation was an acknowledgment of the deep problems Consumer Watchdog previously raised.
Under her leadership, Raphael at best failed to address the core problems at the department and, in some cases, worsened them. These problems include weakening oversight of polluters under pressure from industry and its hired guns, and failing to force serial polluters to operate without poisoning communities or cleaning up their messes.
Raphael’s resignation is insufficient, however, to fix this agency’s deeply rooted problems because its senior leadership remains. This leadership is closely enmeshed with the industry it regulates, creating a dysfunctional culture. It is time for a thorough housecleaning of such managers.
We hope that Governor Brown will take note of this report and acknowledge the department’s deeply rooted problems. We ask that he swiftly choose a new Director from outside the California EPA or DTSC who is deeply committed to shielding the public from toxic harm. This Director must be unafraid to replace managers who are more interested in protecting the wallets of polluters than they are in protecting the public health.
Now is a moment to rethink how the state regulates the environment in order to be an example for the rest of the nation. It is not the time for reform to go into free fall. Without a strong new Director at the helm, the DTSC will go through a period of great instability. At such moments, the department will be even more vulnerable to industry domination via highly paid fixers to the detriment of the public health.
It is precisely how these private interests operate that is the subject of our new report, Inside Job.