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Chemical Safety Board (CSB) Chair Steps Down Amid Scandal

The embattled Chair of the Chemical Safety Board, Rafael Maure-Eraso, resigns after asked to step down by the White House. The CSB is a federal independent process safety accident investigation agency. Vanessa Sutherland (from DOT's PHMSA) is expected to be confirmed by the Senate in the coming months to become the new Chair.

The head of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has resigned weeks after lawmakers with oversight of his agency accused him of hostility toward his staff, a White House official said on Thursday.

Rafael Moure-Eraso stepped down from his role as chairman of the CSB, an independent federal agency responsible for investigating industrial and chemical accidents.

"The White House asked for and received Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso's resignation," the official said.

His term was up in June and earlier this month Obama nominated Vanessa Sutherland, a lawyer at the pipeline safety office, for the position.

On March 18, 14 members of the House of Representatives oversight committee called on Obama to remove Moure-Eraso and two other agency officials, Richard Loeb and Daniel Horowitz.

The lawmakers, including panel Chairman Jason Chaffetz and top Democrat Elijah Cummings, accused Moure-Eraso of malfeasance and "toxic leadership" saying that led to the departure of qualified staff and resulted in delays in investigating accidents at chemical plants and oil refineries.

Last year two Congressional committees said in a report Moure-Eraso and others created a "abusive and hostile work environment" and that the CSB struggled to finish investigations into serious accidents, including one into the 2010 explosion at Tesoro Petroleum Corp's refinery in Anacortes, Washington, that killed seven people.

Moure-Eraso defended himself at the time in a prepared statement for a congressional hearing saying that the CSB was a small agency carrying out large, complex investigations. He added that the U.S. General Accountability Office had faulted the board's management in a 2008 report.

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