- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
According to the report, the Office of Children's Health and the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee met over 30 times over the last 10 years of the panel's existence, discussing a variety of issues with officials from virtually every agency office. However, the report found only three instances, all during the Clinton Administration, in the committee's history that the agency actually sought its advice.
"EPA has not addressed key recommendations from its Advisory Committee, particularly those in a major April 2007 letter and in recent letters advising EPA on proposed revisions to national air quality standards," the GAO report stated. "The April 2007 letter, which marked the 10th anniversary of the Executive Order, provided recommendations in seven key areas. These included the need for EPA to eliminate environmental health disparities among low-income and minority children. While EPA generally responds to the Advisory Committee's letters, the agency has not fulfilled the Administrator's commitment in his response to the 10th anniversary letter to collaboratively review recommendations from the advisory committee."
The Office of Children's Health had begun forming internal workgroups, but a new acting director stopped the process in late 2007 to hold individual meetings with the agency's assistant administrators, and the process remains stalled, the report said. The GAO also noted that the EPA's responses to the committee's specific recommendations on three recently-considered EPA air quality standards – the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter, ozone and lead – were dismissive; the agency either offered to consider the committee's recommendations as part of the public comment process or rejected them.
According to GAO, the group "provided high-level interagency leadership and coordination on children's environmental health, but it expired in April 2005. According to the children's health experts with whom we spoke, the task force provided important leadership on initiatives such as the National Children's Study and the Healthy Schools Environmental Assessment Tool."