by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Department of Energy is blasting a proposal from President Joe Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency to ban a popular chemical, arguing a ban on methylene chloride would hinder the Energy Department’s ability to detect weapons of mass destruction and conduct “complex” national defense research.
The EPA in April proposed a rule to ban the commercial use and production of methylene chloride, which is used in commercial-grade cleaning products—but also in the manufacturing of military equipment and pharmaceuticals. While the proposal offers national security-related exemptions for the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy gets no such exemption.
Now, the Savannah River National Laboratory, which conducts “complex” national defense research “related to the detection of weapons of mass destruction,” is sounding the alarm. In a letter to the EPA, the lab’s principal industrial hygienist argued that America’s ability to detect weapons of mass destruction would suffer if the lab can no longer use methylene chloride.
“Like DOD and NASA, these DOE missions support national security interests as well as critical infrastructure,” the lab wrote in its June 28 letter. “[The laboratory] is concerned that the availability of methylene chloride from vendors and distributors for these important DOE mission research purposes will be limited or non-existent.”
The letter marks a rare occurrence in which two Biden administration departments are publicly sparring. It also pits Biden’s Energy Department against the same climate groups that usually rally behind the administration’s environmental proposals. Environmental law firm Earthjustice in April called the proposed chemical ban a “win for public health” but argued that the final rule should come with fewer exemptions, not more. …
… This is not the first time Biden’s EPA and other regulatory agencies have floated bans on materials that are considered essential.