Trump’s rise to the presidency emboldened the chemical lobby to infiltrate federal agencies and undermine environmental protections. They picked Michael Dourson, a darling of chemical companies, as the nominee to oversee toxics regulations for the country. Dourson had a history of downplaying the effects of secondhand smoke for tobacco companies, and supporting weak standards on Teflon chemicals for DuPont. We knew clearly, that we had to take up the fight to reject his nomination.
As we researched and amplified Dourson’s track record of weak, compromised science, we hit a deep nerve across the country. We saw faith-based groups, labor groups, and veterans come out against Dourson and helped organize many of them, across labor, environmental justice, and civil rights, to oppose his nomination. Together, we garnered over 150,000 signatures, launched a social media campaign that ballooned to over seven million impressions, and met with Senators on Capitol Hill. But Dourson passed his Committee vote.
So we shifted direction to the next game-changing opportunity: pushing the two Republican Senators from North Carolina to reject Dourson, whose votes could sink the entire nomination. To move these conservative Senators, we supported state groups, activists, veterans and businesses in driving calls, postcards, emails and tweets to their offices. We asked reporters to request that the Senators publicly state their opposition.
And the strategy worked! On November 15th, both Senators publicly stated that they would not approve Dourson. Less than a month later, Dourson withdrew his nomination rather than face an outright rejection on the Senate floor. This campaign not only succeeded, but has also been a major step forward in taking back the EPA.