Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
Endocrine Disrupters Screening and Testing Advisory
December 12-13, 1996
San Francisco, California
On December 12 and 13, 1996, the first plenary meeting of the EDSTAC, chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), was convened in San Francisco, California. The meeting was designed to allow the members of the EDSTAC to work toward defining fundamental issues which will guide the deliberations and actions of the EDSTAC, such as ground rules, scope, and principles. The meeting also allowed public observation of the EDSTAC and opportunities for public comment directed toward the Committee members. Please refer to Attachment A for a list of Committee members in attendance. The Keystone Center, a non-profit, neutral organization specializing in public policy mediation, assisted in facilitating the meeting and produced this meeting summary.
II. Welcome and Opening Comments
Dr. Lynn Goldman, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the EDSTAC Chair, welcomed the Committee members to the first official meeting of the chartered EDSTAC. She explained that the EDSTAC had received official designation as a federal advisory Committee, and thanked all members of the group for their willingness to serve on the Committee. Dr. Goldman expressed EPA's recognition of the ambitious agenda, and extended the agency's appreciation to all Committee members for their commitments of time and energy in what EPA hopes will be a satisfying and productive, while challenging, effort.
III. Agenda Review
The facilitator reviewed the agenda which was developed and distributed in advance of the meeting. He stated that there were four primary objectives for the meeting:
- to approve a set of ground rules for the operation of the EDSTAC's deliberations and activities;
- to reach agreement on the EDSTAC's goals and objectives
- to reach agreement on the scope of the EDSTAC's focus and activities; and
- to clarify the structure, composition, and staffing of EDSTAC work groups.
In addition to the two days of plenary meetings being open to public observation, an opportunity for public comment on the activities and discussions of the EDSTAC was included during the evening of December 12. It was hoped that the inclusion of an evening time period for public comment would enable those with commitments during the day to attend and participate in the meeting. The facilitator acknowledged that this was an experimental time slot for public comment, and asked that feedback be offered later for purposes of evaluating its effectiveness.
IV. Membership Issues
Dr. Goldman, and Mr. Tim Mealey of The Keystone Center, offered comments regarding current EDSTAC membership issues. With respect to the federal agencies, EPA pointed out that it has added two federal agencies to the membership list--the National Cancer Institute and the National Marine and Fisheries Service. With regard to small business interests, Dr. Christopher Borgert, representing Aquatrols, Inc., has been added to the EDSTAC. Dr. Goldman noted that further discussion with small business representatives and interests is continuing. Finally, concerning environmental justice representation, Dr. Goldman stated that she believes a number of Committee members bring such a perspective to the EDSTAC deliberations. However, the Agency also recognizes that there is some concern that the EDSTAC needs broader and more extensive environmental justice representation. She stated that EPA is, therefore, in discussions with several members of the national environmental justice community to identify potential additions to the EDSTAC. EPA is also working with Dr. Lovell Jones, a current Committee member who is actively involved in environmental justice issues, toward this goal.
V. Approval of Meeting Summary of October 31 - November 1, 1996, Organizational Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The Committee approved the Meeting Summary of the Organizational Meeting after making some minor changes to the language that captured the discussion of scope, the definition of endocrine disruptors, the relevance of exposure information, and work groups.
VI. Operating Ground Rules for the EDSTAC
During the first day of the meeting the Committee agreed to make a number of revisions to the draft operating ground rules, which had been distributed in advance of the meeting. These revisions were incorporated into the draft and a revised version was distributed and approved during the second day of the meeting. Attachment B contains a copy of the Committee's approved Operating Ground Rules. What follows is a brief summary of the major points of discussion.
A. Leadership and Membership
This section of the ground rules was approved by the Committee without changes or discussion.
B. Decision Making
This section of the ground rules was approved by the Committee without changes. In discussing this section, the facilitator clarified that the "no dissent" definition of consensus would be operationalized by asking at critical junctures whether there was any dissent. Thus, the facilitator stated that Committee members must vocalize any discomfort or concerns they have because silence would generally be interpreted as acquiescence or agreement. It was also clarified that in situations where consensus cannot be achieved on important procedural matters, and where particularly contentious issues remain which need to be resolved, methods such as voting and majority rule might be employed. Where consensus was not possible on substantive issues, especially those that need to be addressed in the Committee's final report, the technique of including a minority report would likely be used.
C. Meetings of the EDSTAC
This section of the ground rules was approved by the Committee without changes. In discussing this section it was noted that the meetings of the EDSTAC will be conducted in full compliance with the provisions of FACA, including all Committee meetings being conducted in an open and public manner, with advance notice of the meetings (soon to be included on and EDSTAC Web site, in addition to current inclusion in the Federal Register). The facilitator noted that while the Committee reserves the right to avail itself of provisions within the FACA for closed meetings (for example, when the confidential business information of some Committee members might enter into the course of discussions), it is not anticipated that the EDSTAC will make use of these provisions.
D. Use of Work Groups and Caucuses
This section of the ground rules was approved by the Committee with minor changes. These changes dealt with the variety of tasks that work groups may be used for, including the presentation of options for consideration by the full Committee. In discussing this section, the facilitator stated that the EDSTAC will make use of work groups through the course of its deliberations. It was noted that the word "subcommittee" is not substitutable for "work group." The FACA has specific provisions and requirements pertaining to subcommittees, which are viewed as sub-groups that operate under the Charter of, but operate somewhat independently of, the parent committee. In contrast, work groups, defined as sub-groups that complete tasks on behalf of the parent committee and ultimately report back to it, are unable of themselves to make final decisions or recommendations. The facilitator stated that work groups would be the preferred vehicle for completing the work of the Committee. The Committee chair offered that the work groups should strive to develop consensus on draft recommendations as this would greatly assist the overall EDSTAC process. Some Committee members felt that written summaries of work group meetings might have value to the plenary group and the public above and beyond the public distribution of the written work group products. It was decided that, whether to produce a meeting summary would be determined by each work group on a case-by-case and meeting-by-meeting basis. However, at a minimum, the Committee agreed that rather than impose summary and documentation requirements on the work groups, the role of a work group liaison with the full Committee should be recognized and that the verbal reports from work groups should be captured in the summary of the full Committee meetings.
E. Issuance of Meeting Summaries and Other Committee Documents
This section of the ground rules was approved by the Committee with some minor changes. These changes clarified the deadlines for review of draft meeting summaries by Committee members and the need to make both draft and/or final meeting summaries available to the public prior to the next meeting. In anticipation of the use of a Web site, the changes made clarified that the Committee would review the draft documents within a defined period of time, and that if sections of the summary remained unresolved, the drafts would be placed on the Web site with those sections excerpted and thus noted. The facilitator clarified that EPA and Keystone Center staff would be available to offer assistance in producing EDSTAC documents. However, the facilitator also stated that successful documentation would also result from a cooperative process whereby Committee members produce materials and EPA and Keystone staff serve as a vehicle to synthesize those materials into appropriate documents for review by the full Committee. Some Committee members requested that time-sensitive draft document be electronically mailed to Committee members, rather than placing the responsibility of accessing the Web site on EDSTAC members. The facilitator noted that the Web site would not be used for time sensitive communications with the Committee but rather to keep the public informed on the EDSTAC's deliberations. Other devices, such as overnight express mail, faxes, list serves, and email, would be used to communicate with Committee members.