Steven D. Jellinek
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Steven D. Jellinek received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in public affairs from Syracuse University before accepting a position at the Internal Revenue Service. He was at the Internal Revenue Service for several years before being invited to work with the newly established Council on Environmental Quality. Once the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed, he became the first Assistant Administrator for Toxic Substances at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and soon the Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxic Substances. The position was expected to be challenging: TSCA was written with many procedural hurdles and the environmental Congressional committees were not eager to oversee its implementation. The law quickly became an “orphan” in Congress.
Jellinek encountered many challenges in implementing the new law: there was no inventory rule and no classificatory system for chemicals; there were interagency politics that had to be negotiated; there was little statutorial guidance for prioritizing exiting chemicals, or even defining a chemical of concern; and there were no technologies of risk assessment or toxicity testing. The Office of General Counsel advised caution in exercising the new law, and industry was quick to challenge EPA rules. Jellinek inherited what was considered an inefficient organizational structure in the Office of Toxic Substances. The premanufacturing review process was one of the few immediate successes; industry seemed to really internalize the goal of safer new chemicals. Maintaining confidential business information proved to be a burden to a more effective chemicals program.
Jellinek believes that it is the responsibility of policymakers to be precautionary. He repeatedly questioned his decision as assistant administrator not to pressure Congress for a more workable law. From his perspective, a reformed TSCA should strive to reduce the hurdles on EPA action, and he also thinks it might be worth considering a premarket rather than a premanufacture review.
|1960||University of Rochester||BA||Political Science|
Internal Revenue Service
Executive Office of the President
US Environmental Protection Agency
Jellinek, Schwartz, and Connolly, Inc.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
|1969 to 1970||
National Institute of Public Affairs Fellowship, Stanford University
Table of Contents
Public administration. Internal Revenue Service. President's Council on Environmental Quality. US Environmental Protection Agency.
Political difficulties. Procedural hurdles. Reorganizing the Office of Toxic Substances. Absence of congressional advocates.
Inventory rule. Naming chemicals. Interagency Testing Committee recommendations. Prioritization. Defining unreasonable risk. General Counsel. Premanufacturing notices. Office organization. Confidential business information. Lack of mandate. Risk assessment and toxicity testing.
Precaution versus the "precautionary principle." Asbestos.
Reduce procedural hurdles. Premarket versus premanufacture review. Prolonged Congressional oversight.
About the Interviewer
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 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.