The inventor and technological pioneer Thomas Edison once said that, “the three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common Sense.” To those that watch the news and follow political theater in Washington, the machine of government may appear stalled and full of consternation and lacking perhaps all three of Mr. Edison’s essentials. However, in reality, much worthwhile work is being done throughout the Capital by dedicated federal agency employees. Their stories and accomplishments are often unsung, but federal employees’ hard work has continued despite the ongoing political gridlock and negative rancor.

At the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA), we work closely with several large federal agencies, most notably the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With over 60 meetings in 2018 alone, HCPA has maintained a friendly and collaborative relationship with staff at all levels of the agency, including both political appointees and career administrative personnel. In the context of those relationships, HCPA has witnessed the hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense that so many accomplished EPA employees bring to their critical work.

Due to the focused and dedicated efforts of so many at the EPA, the United States has cleaner air and water, as well as a much-needed modernization of the chemicals management program. From the implementation of the reauthorized Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) to the review of chemicals under revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), HCPA has witnessed first-hand an EPA full of steadfast individuals who have committed themselves to worthwhile endeavors for the benefit of the environment and the country. For example, the EPA’s Spring 2019 regulatory agenda includes major actions on Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act reforms and clarifications, and many others. In the chemical’s management space, EPA is moving forward with its evaluations of chemicals under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, and has made progress on new regulatory determinations for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and methylene chloride.

But the EPA’s extensive work with industry and public interest groups does not end there. The popular EPA Safer Choice program, a voluntary labeling program that helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that both perform effectively and are also greener and safer for human health and the environment, has consistently earned support and praise from product formulators, environmental advocates, procurement officers, and consumer groups. Through transparency, scientific rigor, and proactive stakeholder engagement, Safer Choice has found enormous success with consumer education while providing unique innovation incentives to consumer product formulators.

Although the private sector often boasts that it is more efficient than government, the value in having EPA operate this program cannot be overstated – EPA has both the world-class scientific expertise and a position of neutral objectivity that make the Safer Choice label accessible and trusted by all affiliated stakeholders.

So, while the talking heads and television pundits may boost their ratings by trashing government bureaucrats, let us not forget the great women and men that show up to work every day to pursue these worthwhile endeavors. And as we watch the political theater and negative rhetoric continue to play out in a never-ending news cycle, let us not forget that our federal agencies’ hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common-sense help create a better, greener and healthier world. We owe them a debt of gratitude and recognition for their continued service to our country.


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