New Chemical Security Lobbying Investigation
by Kert Davies
May 1, 2008
In a new Greenpeace investigation of more than 500 congressional lobbying records of the chemical industry and allied businesses researchers identified 238 lobbyists who registered to lobby against strong chemical security legislation in 2007. With at total lobbying budget of $130 million dollars, Greenpeace estimates that the industry averaged about $1 million a month to forestall strong chemical security legislation.
The report documents multiple layers of a quiet but extensive lobbying campaign to prevent strong regulations and to keep chemical users from switching to safer, more secure chemicals and processes. The report includes 20 trade associations such as the chemical manufacturer’s American Chemistry Council (ACC) as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 30 companies including Dow Chemical Company, and ExxonMobil and high priced lobby firms such as Hogan & Hartson.
Since 9/11, the chemical industry lobby has succeeded in delaying the enactment of permanent, comprehensive chemical security legislation. In 2006 a 740 word temporary law was enacted with the expectation that Congress would revisit the issue in 2007.
Jack Gerard, CEO of the ACC summed up the chemical lobby’s agenda, “We believe the Department of Homeland Security should have the ability to put these regs in place. Let’s let the dust settle, and then a few years down the road let’s take a look at it."
In contrast the Association of American Railroads recently issued a strong statement on ultra-hazardous chemicals: "It is time for the nation’s big chemical companies to stop making the dangerous chemicals that can be replaced by safer substitutes or new technologies currently in the marketplace…And if they won’t do it, Congress should do it for them in the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2008."
On March 6th, the House Homeland Security Committee adopted a comprehensive bill (H.R. 5577). The House Energy and Commerce Committee which is expected to take up this legislation soon and has scheduled a hearing for May 15th. To avoid a renewal of the hopelessly weak temporary statute, Congress must pass a permanent law this year.