For Immediate Release:
March 17, 2017
Washington, D.C. – The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FME Law) filed suit this week against the Department of Health and Human Services. This is the latest in a series of E&E Legal actions centering on questions about the complex web of relationship of federal employees with, and transfer of millions of public dollars to, overseas environmental groups which increasingly appear to be more activist than scientific.
Yesterday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee, released a letter sent to the U.S. EPA in the most recent Congressional expression of concern over related issues. EPA in fact spurred most of the questions E&E Legal is pursuing, with a brief release in October 2015 of a report saying the herbicide glyphosate is probably not carcinogenic — the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) report— which the Agency quickly took down from its website claiming it hadn’t meant to publish the paper.
E&E Legal’s latest Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit seeks public records held by HHH’s National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) division the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Specifically, it seeks copies of contracts that sent U.S. taxpayer money to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and to Italy’s Ramazzini Institute (IBR) — a group which openly boasts of getting U.S. taxpayer money, but with no information available to the public as to what this is for or what the public receives for these sums.
The Department’s relationship with Ramazzini is an issue of increasing importance and public interest as more details emerge. Unfortunately, while NIH acknowledged receipt of the request, it has failed to provide a response.
The EPA publish/unpublish episode was among numerous signs that proclamations affirming established science on the glyphosate issue ran afoul of Ramazzini, and other players in a recent campaign to alter that widely accepted understanding. Public records also reflect that IARC is a major player in that campaign, a body whose report was drafted with the participation of a roster of Ramazzini-affiliated authors.
Previously the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked NIH for more details about its financial support for IARC, and E&E Legal has obtained correspondence from IARC author, member of the Collegium Ramazzini (and Environmental Defense Fund-affiliated) Chris Portier, which appears to suggest to an EPA political official the CARC report was interfering with his efforts to ban glyphosate in Europe. Since that time, EPA and now the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) both concluded that glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk. The latter report apparently spurred Sen. Inhofe’s latest inquiry.
An existing E&E Legal FOIA suit seeks Ramazzini-related records held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), filed in September 2016. Recently, EPA more than tripled its estimated number of documents it has yet to turn over in that matter.
Other previous E&E Legal FOIAs show that the President of the Collegium Ramazzini and central coordinator of its fundraising activities, Phil Landrigan, sought to coordinate its activities with those of the U.S. government. Specifically, Landrigan corresponded with Linda Birnbaum, Director of NIEHS who is at the same time also a member of the Collegium Ramazzini.
Other FOIA’d correspondence shows Landrigan asking if Birnbaum would publish the Ramazzini Institute’s critique of a piece in Science Magazine in January 2015, using the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication, Environmental Health Perspectives which Birnbaum oversees. A closer look shows that journal has published two dozen Ramazzini-affiliated reports in recent years.
The contracts E&E Legal seeks in this most recent suit will help shed light on this relationship, one that assumes added importance when considering that USASpending.gov shows Ramazzini listed in 13 different NIH contracts, through four different third parties, for nearly two million dollars since 2009. Since Birnbaum’s tenure at NIEHS began in 2009, that agency has directed at least $92 million in grant funds to fellow members of the Collegium Ramazzini; NIH has given over $315 million in grant dollars for Ramazzini fellows since 1985.
“Following up on this same evidence of this curious relationship between NIH and IBR, E&E Legal has other outstanding FOIA requests, at both EPA and NTP, which is also part of NIH”, said E&E Legal President Craig Richardson. “All of these agencies’ use of taxpayer dollars to fund IBR and IARC are now of greater public interest and importance. The taxpayer has a right to the details and extent of this relationship, particularly what influence IBR and its members have on government studies.”
About EE Legal
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.