Federal agencies Leadership

CSB member defends vote that made him interim exec

Richard Engler

Rick Engler

Washington – Accused by an advocacy group of staging a “coup d’état,” Chemical Safety Board member Rick Engler defended a board vote that granted him administrative and executive authorities, saying he is committed to transparency and “positive governance changes.”

The vote, which took place June 11, filled a void left by the March resignation of former Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso amid accusations of mismanagement.

However, the nonprofit organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility claims the vote delegating Engler’s new authority was not valid, and the group accused Engler of acting without a quorum. According to federal regulations, CSB must have a quorum of at least three members for the “transaction of business.”

Board member Manuel Ehrlich had attempted to delay the vote, but he lacked a majority.

When questioned about the process of the vote, Engler told Safety+Health that the board has authority to appoint an interim executive at times when the chair is vacant, and the office of legal counsel found that quorum requirements were met.

The appointment came about two weeks before the board on June 24 approved new reforms aimed at increasing public transparency and accountability within the agency, an effort spearheaded by Engler.

“I came here to work on chemical safety and do our part to help prevent chemical disasters,” he told S+H, adding that the reforms are “about the future of the agency and trying to stabilize the agency, and ensure all voices can be heard and the public can be heard.”

As of June 25, the board has two of five member positions filled. Two additional members have been nominated, including a new chair, but neither has had a confirmation vote.