The cozy relationship between the Trump administration and the chemical industry is easy to see. But now we’re getting details of how Dow courted the president and his top environmental official to keep a dangerous pesticide on the market.
In March, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would hold up a scheduled ban on chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that at small doses can harm children's brains and nervous systems. This decision was contrary to his own agency’s assessment on the chemical a year prior.
As the maker of chlorpyrifos, Dow Chemical was quick to celebrate. It’s been fighting to keep chlorpyrifos legal, with efforts including a ridiculous website touting the chemical that numerous studies have concluded is unsafe. This week, an investigation by The Associated Press revealed that Pruitt met with Dow’s CEO less than three weeks before his decision.
On March 9, Pruitt and the Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris, were featured speakers at an energy industry conference in Houston. The pair met for half an hour in a Houston hotel – a tete-a-tete the AP found out about only after several Freedom of Information Act requests for Pruitt’s meeting schedule.
An EPA spokeswoman denied that Pruitt and Liveris discussed chlorpyrifos. But the meeting was just one marker of the cozy relationship between Dow and the administration.
Soon after November’s election, Dow gave $1 million to President-elect Trump’s Inauguration Committee. Liveris was named the head of the President’s American manufacturing council and has met with the president a number of times. The AP reported that in February, when Trump signed an executive order to establish task forces in government agencies to roll back regulations, “he handed the pen to Dow’s chief executive, who was standing at his side.”
The EPA has been cryptic on information pertaining to its chlorpyrifos decision – just last week, EWG partnered with political watchdog group American Oversight to file suit regarding the agency’s failure to release pesticide records. Also last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics and EWG penned a letter to Pruitt in staunch opposition to the decision, laying out the health implications it will have on developing children.
Secret meetings and big donations are just some of the ways the executives of Dow and other corporate polluters are currying favor with Trump and his team. In return, they get political appointments, an open door policy with regulators, and freedom to continue endangering public health and the environment.
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