Some months after Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Nancy Beck was rumored to be the President’s choice to serve as Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the news is now official. The White House announced Beck’s nomination on March 2, 2020.
Beck’s nomination, if approved by the Senate, would bring the CPSC back to its full complement of five Commissioners and break the political deadlock at the Commission. The departure of CPSC Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle, a Republican, last October, and the surprising appointment of Democrat Robert Adler as acting head of the agency, resulted in a 2-2 split along party lines. In an equally divided Commission, there is no natural majority, making rulemaking and other Commission-level decisions more difficult to pass. The Acting Chair has significant authority to direct resources and staff activities in ways that both keep the Commission functioning and affect policy without relying on Commission votes, but the business community has long endorsed a fully functioning slate of CPSC Commissioners. Nominating an individual with years of technical and scientific experience to helm CPSC would bring a new type of expertise to an agency that strives to be data and science driven.
Beck currently serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at EPA. She came to EPA after working for the American Chemistry Council and the Washington State Department of Health.