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A mission corrupted: Your tax dollars pay for ACC to coach big industry on how to undercut EPA’s IRIS program

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

On February 22, the Advocacy Office of the Small Business Administration, an agency of the Federal Government, held a meeting without any public notice and from which the press was barred.  And while the office’s mission is supposed to be to provide “an independent voice for small business within the federal government,” many if not most of the attendees were from large companies and the trade associations and Washington lobbyists that represent their interests.

This meeting was the latest in a long and continuing series of so-called “environmental roundtables” that serve as a basis for the SBA’s Advocacy Office to weigh in against environmental or workplace regulations that big business opposes.   

There are no records from these meetings that are made publicly available.  Agendas and attendee lists are not disclosed, though I was able to obtain an agenda for this particular meeting at the last minute.  I noted with interest that the first half of the meeting focused on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, which provides health assessments of chemicals used by public health and environmental officials around the world. 

The key draw in this meeting:  a senior official from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), whose dominant members are huge global chemical companies like ExxonMobil, BASF, Dow and DuPont – in short, Big Chem.   The ACC official spent a full hour coaching representatives of Big Chem and other global mining companies and automobile corporations like GM in how to pick apart and challenge recent documents developed by the IRIS program.  IRIS has become a focal point of the chemical industry’s multi-front attack on independent government science.  Here is the deck of Powerpoint slides used by the ACC representative and the other industry speaker.  Read More »

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TERA’s Kids+Chemical Safety website: On non-profits, objectivity and independence

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

My recent post about the new American Chemistry Council (ACC)-sponsored website, Kids + Chemical Safety, engendered some comments that go directly to the issues of scientific objectivity and independence.

The website says “TERA [Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, manager of the site] was founded on the belief that an independent non-profit organization can provide a unique function to protect human health by conducting scientific research and development on risk issues in a transparent and collaborative fashion and communicating the results widely.”  The “non-profit” descriptor – which TERA uses to describe itself no fewer than eight times on the site, including four times on this one page alone – seems intended to convey that TERA provides information that is purely objective and that it operates in a manner that is independent of who pays it to do its work.

It’s critical to recognize that being a non-profit does not conflate to, or somehow confer the right to claim, objectivity or independence.  The National Rifle Association is a non-profit that clearly has strongly held and expressed opinions.  EDF is also a non-profit, but I don’t pretend, as does TERA, that we don’t have a particular perspective and position.

So putting the issue of non-profit status entirely aside, we should judge TERA’s claim that its website provides information that is objective and independent based on its content, and that’s where it becomes quite clear that the information is neither.  Read More »

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Chemicals R Us: New ACC-sponsored website says chemicals are safe and fun for kids!

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

[See also my more recent post on this topic here.]

I was alerted yesterday to a new website – kidschemicalsafety.org – funded by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and run by its right-hand “non-profit,” TERA (Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment).  The website and an accompanying Facebook page are a wonder to behold, replete with photos of happy kids.  For the most part, I’ll leave it to you to explore.  But here are a few highlights.  Read More »

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Still looking for a moment of truth from ACC

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

We’ve blogged here recently about how the American Chemistry Council (ACC) is seeking to hide the truth about the major changes made to the Safe Chemicals Act.  And about its efforts to suppress the truth about chemicals linked to cancer.  But its tenuous relationship with the truth doesn’t end there.  Read More »

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The truth will out: Chemical industry’s deceptive tactics are eventually exposed

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

It’s hard not to get cynical in Washington, DC these days.  Just this past week, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) hosted an ice cream social on Capitol Hill – I kid you not.  ACC’s beckoning slogan:  “Join and learn about the benefits of chlorine chemistry and enjoy a tasty treat.”  I’m told hundreds of House staffers partook of this propaganda fest, at least the tasty treat part.  My initial reaction?  How can health and environmental advocates hope to compete?  Especially if one can successfully curry favor merely by offering a scoop of a staffer’s favorite flavor.

But just as I began to despair, Part I of a major exposé on a far more serious campaign of deception by the chemical industry ran on the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  (Actually, the article occupies virtually the entire front page of today’s edition.)   Read More »

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Should we continue to take the chemical industry at its word when it insists it’s still for TSCA reform?

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

I’m one of those throwbacks that loves to read a hard copy of a newspaper in the morning.  One thing the hard copies provide that reading online doesn’t is the ability to take in those full-page paid ads that Corporate America runs on a virtually daily basis.

Lately, not surprisingly, ads from “the people of America’s oil and natural gas industry” – aka the American Petroleum Institute (API) – are appearing frequently in the New York Times and Washington Post.  In one recent ad, API asserts:  “Above all else, the people of America’s oil and natural gas industry are committed to safe operations.”  That one is a little hard to swallow, coming as it does not only right on the heels of the largest environmental disaster in American history, but after years of staunch opposition to stronger safety regulation.  It seems API is now all for safety, after years of being against it.

This got me thinking about the chemical industry.  The industry’s main trade association, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), now says it’s all for “modernizing” TSCA, after years of opposing any such effort.  Why am I getting suspicious that there may be no there there?  Read More »

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