This story was originally published by ProPublica.
A few days after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Michal Freedhoff settled into her cramped home office in a suburb of Washington, D.C., to get to work as the nation’s new top chemical regulator.
It was a key role, charged with protecting Americans from toxic substances used in agriculture and manufacturing. But going back decades, the office had gained a reputation for being captured by the companies it regulated. Under the Trump administration, the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, like many federal agencies, had taken a hard turn away from science. Important new rules, years in the making, had been delayed or diluted.
In Freedhoff, Biden had found a public servant steeped in the risks of chemicals and what it takes to police them. Testaments to her drive surround her desk. On one wall hangs a framed front page of The Washington Post from the day that automakers struck a deal she helped broker with California on vehicle emissions standards; on another is an original copy of a 2016 law that gave the Environmental Protection Agency sweeping new authority to protect peo... Read more