Linda J. Fisher

Born: November 16, 1952 | Saginaw, MI, US

Linda J. Fisher was the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances; at the time when she became the Assistant Administrator, the Office was primarily focused on pesticides. But, as Fisher recounted, the Office was committed to making the toxics program succeed, often by working around the Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) statutory obligations. Fisher believes that difficulties in implementing TSCA were rooted in the law’s lack of direction, but that since TSCA was written, the way Congress writes laws has matured. She also believes that a reauthorized TSCA will address the issues of a base set of data and confidential business information and that a stronger TSCA is necessary to accompany the voluntary and pollution prevention measures currently in place. She emphasizes that regulation should address exposures where they occur, whether in the manufacturing process or in products.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0645
No. of pages: 29
Minutes: 67

Interview Sessions

Jody A. Roberts and Kavita D. Hardy
5 March 2010
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Washington, DC

Abstract of Interview

Linda J. Fisher was the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances; at the time when she became the Assistant Administrator, the Office was primarily focused on pesticides. But, as Fisher recounted, the Office was committed to making the toxics program succeed, often by working around the Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) statutory obligations.  

While there was some Congressional oversight, there was no public or Congressional force for a reauthorization of the act in the early 1990s. The Office was then given increased responsibilities with the Pollution Prevention Act. This did not replace TSCA’s role in the toxics program, but the Office did reallocate its limited resources accordingly.  After the Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA case, and the administration’s decisions not to appeal, Fisher chose not to pursue a revised asbestos rule because, from her perspective, the industry was changing too quickly and, for the most part, moving out of asbestos. The failure of the asbestos rule was extremely demoralizing to the Office, and created an insurmountable barrier to using Section 6, but the Office continued to be productive in its pollution prevention activities, voluntary measures, and international cooperation. Fisher believes that difficulties in implementing TSCA were rooted in the law’s lack of direction, but that since TSCA was written, the way Congress writes laws has matured. 

She also believes that a reauthorized TSCA will address the issues of a base set of data and confidential business information and that a stronger TSCA is necessary to accompany the voluntary and pollution prevention measures currently in place. She emphasizes that regulation should address exposures where they occur, whether in the manufacturing process or in products.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1974 Miami University of Ohio BA History
1978 George Washington University MBA
1982 Ohio State University JD

Professional Experience

US House of Representatives

1974 to 1976
Legislative Assistant to Representative Clarence J. Brown
1976 to 1978
Legislative Assistant to Representative Ralph S. Regula
1979 to 1980
Associate Staff Member, Committee on Appropriations

US Environmental Protection Agency

1983 to 1984
Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response
1985 to 1988
Chief of Staff to the Administrator
1988 to 1989
Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation
1989 to 1993
Assistant Administrator, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances
2001 to 2003
Deputy Administrator

Latham & Watkins LLP

1993 to 1995
Attorney, Washington, DC

Monsanto Company

1995 to 2000
Vice President, Government Affairs

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

2004 to 2011
Vice President, Safety, Health and Environment
2004 to 2011
Chief Sustainability Officer

Table of Contents

Implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act
1

Congressional oversight. Reliance on voluntary measures. Lack of direction.

Growing
7

Pollution Prevention Act. TRI. Limited resources. Changes in statue composition. Congressional oversight. Role of environmental community. 

Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA and Beyond
10

Office demoralization. Administrative inaction. Limited rulemaking options. Shifting Office focus. 

Toxis Substances Control Act Reform
16

Base set of date. CBI. Voluntary measures insufficient. Pressure for reform. Burden of proof. Addressing exposures. Need for command-and-control. 

Index
27

About the Interviewer

Jody A. Roberts

Jody A. Roberts is the Director of the Institute for Research at the Science History Institute. He received his PhD and MS in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and holds a BS in chemistry from Saint Vincent College. His research focuses on the intersections of regulation, innovation, environmental issues, and emerging technologies within the chemical sciences.

Kavita D. Hardy

Kavita D. Hardy was a research assistant in the Environmental History and Policy Program at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She received a BA in chemistry and in economics from Swarthmore College.