Victor J. Kimm
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Victor J. Kimm received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil (then sanitary) engineering. When President John F. Kennedy asked what Americans could do for their country, Kimm decided to volunteer in Latin America. After three years there he spent two years in Washington, DC, working with labor unions. Then he went to work at the Economic Development Administration, receiving a one-year fellowship from Princeton University. Through a Princeton faculty member Kimm obtained a senior post at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation. He worked on the Safe Drinking Water Act and promoted the states’ efforts to qualify for delegation of implementation responsibilities. He became Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances (OPTS). There he oversaw chemical regulation, resulting in reregistration and the modernizing of outdated protocols. During his ten years as Deputy Assistant Administrator, OPTS was responsible for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Office regarded asbestos as the most likely pollutant to establish standards for implementing TSCA Section 6, but it failed the “least burdensome” requirement, in subsequent judicial review. Kimm laments a lack of an appeal by the Department of Justice for the apparent gutting of EPA’s authority to ban substances in products under section 6 of TSCA.
Kimm discusses risk assessment (hazard, risk, cost) and risk management (“how high can you jump”) in TSCA and adds his own third aspect, risk communications. He praises OPPTS (Office of Pollution, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, which replaced OPTS), its scientists, and its innovations like health advisories and Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). He discusses the hobbling of regulation by poorly-designed laws like the Delaney Clause. He laments the complexity of regulation that leads to inconsistent standards for chemical tolerances and that results in an inability to foster the public interest. He believes that TSCA would be more effective if confidential business information (CBI) exemption were limited and if severer penalties could be levied for not informing the EPA of knowledge of possible harmful chemicals. He hopes for more resources from Congress and for greater emphasis on alternatives to dangerous substances.
|1959||Manhattan College||BCE||Civil Engineering|
|1960||New York University||MCE||Civil Engineering|
Society for International Development
American Institute for Free Labor Development
US Department of Commerce
US Environmental Protection Agency
University of Southern California
|1969 to 1970||
National Institute of Public Affairs Fellowship, at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University
|1979 to 1995||
For every year in the Senior Executive Service, received an Outstanding Performance Rating and Bonus, and was promoted to the top ES6 ranking in 1988
Presidential Award, Meritorious Senior Executive
Table of Contents
Undergraduate and master's degrees. Association for International Development in Latin America. Chief of Technical Services, American Institute for Free Labor Development. Division Director, Economic Development Administration in Department of Commerce.
US Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Drinking Water; Safe Drinking Water Act. Primacy and the states. Policy coordination. Pesticides.
Outdated protocols and reregistration. Chemical regulation: hazard, risk, and cost. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication. Administrative Procedures Act. Alar and voluntary cooperation.
Asbestos fails Section 6 of TSCA’s “least burdensome” requirement. Chemicals of concern program. Lack of constituency. Lack of Congressional interest through two administrations. “Pendulum effect.” Delaney Clause and mandated suppression of innovation or improvement. Pollution Prevention Act.
Limitations to confidential business information in TSCA. Penalties for failure to notify EPA of possible harmful chemicals. Uniform standards for pesticide tolerances in foods. More resources from Congress. Improvement in pollution prevention techniques inside plants. Better understanding of complexity of standards regulation. Greater emphasis on alternatives to potentially dangerous substances.
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.