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For Clues On Chemical Reform, Just Follow The Money

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Chemicals in Commerce Act discussion draft circulated in the House of Representatives earlier this year claims to advance the public interest.  We don’t think so.

This legislation, which claims to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, would actually put Americans at greater risk – allowing manufacturers to skirt already weak regulations on chemicals.  It would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect the public from potentially dangerous chemicals and would prevent states from passing their own laws.   

If you want to know who’s behind this bill, check out which industry has donated large sums of money to the campaign committees of its sponsors.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ “Open Secrets” project, the campaign committee of Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the bill’s principal author, received $45,999 from the chemical industry so far this year. Shimkus wrote the bill as the Chairman of the Environment and the Economy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the EPA.  Committee vice chair Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) as well as Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) received a combined total of  $107,650 from the chemical industry so far in 2014. Fellow committee member Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), who has said that he is “committed to continuing the fight to reduce excessive government regulations” on the chemical industry, received $41,055 from chemical companies this year.

But this isn’t just a Republican problem – the chemical industry has supported dozens of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) received $28,700 from chemical companies and member Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) received $21,000, including $10,000 from Dow Chemical this year. The American Chemistry Council has backed Richmond before, running this ad supporting his 2012 campaign.

It’s clear that the chemical industry is spending significant amounts of money to prevent consumers from getting the regulations they need and deserve to keep their families safe and informed.  Unfortunately, it’s further evidence of the power and influence the chemical industry wields over some in Congress.  

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