Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler:
The undersigned groups write with great concern about the news reports that Dr. Ruth Etzel, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP), has been placed on administrative leave.
Established in 1997, OCHP is the only office within EPA dedicated to the health of children. Children are not little adults, and OCHP, as well as its pediatrician leadership, have the expertise to inform EPA policymaking so that it adequately protects children. Without this office and pediatric expertise, we are concerned that EPA policy could inadvertently harm or exclude children.
By placing Dr. Etzel on leave, the EPA has sent a signal that children’s health is not a priority for the agency. We are particularly perplexed that this move has happened mere days before the start of Children’s Health Month. The undersigned groups ask that EPA immediately clarify what action it has taken with regards to Dr. Etzel and with regards to OCHP, and make no further attempts to dismantle, re-organize, diminish, or otherwise reduce the abilities and authorities of OCHP.
In addition, by this letter the undersigned organizations formally request a meeting with you and the heads of our organizations.