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Congress to Chemical Industry: You’re Under Investigation

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – The powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee today launched a landmark investigation into the chemical industry lobby group, The American Chemistry Council (ACC). In a letter to ACC President Jack Gerard, Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak – the committee chair and its investigations chair – demanded that the industry come clean about the degree to which it has been able to corrupt science at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Said Stupak in a statement accompanying the letter to the ACC, “Americans rely on sound science to ensure the safety of everyday products. If that science has been compromised by industry, then the health and safety of the public is in danger.”

The full text of the letter is at the bottom of this release:

“EWG has collected thousands of internal chemical industry documents showing that for decades the chemical industry has worked to corrupt the scientific process and deceive the American public about the health risks of their products, even as they knowingly polluted the bodies of every person in the country with toxic chemicals,” said Richard Wiles, Executive Director of EWG.

“This is a landmark investigation. For the first time the public will find out exactly how the chemical industry uses their influence to corrupt government science at the expense of public health,” Wiles added.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Dingell Press

 

 

 

NEWS RELEASE

Committee on Energy and Commerce

Rep. John D. Dingell, Chairman

For immediate release: April 2, 2008

Contact: Jodi Seth or Alex Haurek, 202-225-5735

 

Dingell, Stupak Investigate

 

American Chemistry Council, EPA Review Panels

 

Washington, DC – Key lawmakers today questioned the role the chemical industry's main lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), has played in shaping scientific consensus about the safety of certain consumer products.

In a letter to ACC, Reps. John D. Dingell (D-MI), the Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak (D-MI), the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, note that ACC helps fund the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (ISRTP), which publishes the scientific journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology The lawmakers' letter questions whether ACC's funding has resulted in bias in the journal.

"Peer reviewed journals play an important role in shaping and informing scientific debate about the safety of consumer products," Dingell said. "Our Committee intends to determine what influence the chemical industry yields over the scientific community and whether that influence is proper."

President of the American Chemistry Council President of the American Chemistry Council

The letter also asks ACC for information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) peer review panels and Dr. Deborah Rice. Rice was dismissed from her position on an EPA peer review panel after ACC complained Rice was not impartial because she had previously expressed concerns about the health effects of decabromobiphenyl ether (deca), a chemical widely used as a flame retardant. Meanwhile, the letter notes, at least nine EPA panels assessing the human health effects of toxic chemicals have included individuals alleged to have financial interests in the chemical industry. Last month, Dingell and Stupak wrote EPA about its peer review panel process and Rice's dismissal.

 

The full text of the lawmakers' letter sent today is below. For additional information, visit http://energycommerce.house.gov/ .

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Dingell Letter

 

 

 

April 2, 2008

 

Mr. Jack N. Gerard

President and Chief Executive Officer

American Chemistry Council

1300 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington, VA 22209

Dear Mr. Gerard:

Under Rules X and XI of the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations are investigating the use of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) and the industry's use of consulting firms such as the Weinberg Group to manipulate public opinion related to certain chemicals. As a result, we have begun investigating the removal of Dr. Deborah Rice from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) external peer review panel on decabromobiphenyl ether (deca) at the request of the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

 

We have reviewed the ACC letter to the EPA requesting Dr. Rice's removal and have noted that ACC's objection to Dr. Rice appears to be based not on any pecuniary interest in the health assessment of deca, but instead on the assertion that in Dr. Rice's capacity as a scientist employed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, she testified before the Maine legislature on the human health risks associated with deca.

 

We wish to know how the ACC determined that Dr. Rice had such a conflict of interest and why this conflict of interest would warrant removal from the EPA panel. We are interested as well in learning why some other members of EPA panels, specifically those mentioned in our March 13, 2008, letter to the Agency (attached), have not been targeted by the ACC as also having conflicts of interest that would disqualify them from serving on EPA panels. As such, we are further interested in learning of all scientists investigated and determined to have, or not to have, conflicts of interest by ACC.

In addition, we are interested in the relationship between the American Chemistry Council (and all its subsidiaries such as the Chlorine Chemistry Council, Society of Plastics, American Plastics Council, Vinyl Institute, etc.) and the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (ISRTP). In a November 19, 2002, letter to Elsevier Science and Academic Press, several scientists noted "apparent conflicts of interests, lack of transparency, and absence of editorial independence" in the ISRTP's journal, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. In that letter, they note that the ACC is one organization that provides financial support to the ISRTP, which may result in a bias toward studies that favor the ACC's policies. The ISRTP also holds official meetings in the offices of Keller & Heckman, L.L.P., a law firm that specializes in regulatory law related to pharmaceutical and food industries. Additionally, we are interested in your relationship with Dr. William F. "Bill" Carroll, former executive of the Vinyl Institute and former president of the American Chemical Society.

Therefore, we ask that you provide the following information and items to the Committee:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. All records relating to Dr. Deborah Rice;
  2. All records relating to Robert Schnatter, James Klaunig, James Swenberg, Vernon Walker, Lorelei Mucci, Dale Sickles, Elizabeth "Betty" Anderson, Susan Borghoff, and Deborah Barsotti;

     

     

  3. All records of communications relating to the membership of EPA external peer review panels;
  4. All records of payments to and communications with the Weinberg Group;
  5. All records of payments to and communications with William F. "Bill" Carroll;
  6. All records of payments to the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology and officials of the organization;
  7. All records of payments to any officials of the journal, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, including editors, associate editors, editorial board members, and authors of articles published therein;
  8. All records of payments to the law firm Keller and Heckman, L.L.P., and
  9. A written explanation as to whether those individuals identified in our March 13, 2008, letter to EPA, in the opinion of the American Chemistry Council, have any type of conflict of interest related to their membership on their respective EPA panels. For each individual without such a conflict, please explain why their circumstances are distinguishable from that of Dr. Deborah Rice. In addition, for individuals with such a conflict, please explain whether the ACC believes that each individual should be removed from their respective EPA panels, or if the panels have finished their work, please provide a written explanation as to whether the ACC believes that the individuals who do have a conflict of interest should also be removed from their respective EPA panels or, if the panels have finished their work, whether the comments and opinions of those individuals should be redacted from their panels' work product.

 

The above request applies to the American Chemistry Council as well as all of its constituent subsidiaries such as the Chlorine Chemistry Council, Society of Plastics, American Plastics Council, Vinyl Institute, and any other subsidiary currently and prior to their merger with the American Chemistry Council.

 

Please deliver copies of the requested records to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Room 316, Ford House Office Building, by no later than two weeks from the date of this letter. Please note that for the purpose of responding to this request, the terms "record" and "relating" should be interpreted in accordance with the attachment to this letter. After review of the records, we may require additional records and/or staff interviews with ACC officials.

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

s/John D. Dingell

Chairman

Committee on Energy and Commerce

s/Bart Stupak Chairman

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

 

cc: The Honorable Joe Barton, Ranking Member

Committee on Energy and Commerce

The Honorable John Shimkus, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

 

 

 

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

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