The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is a trade association for chemical companies.

It represents the likes of companies such as Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Honeywell, and dozens of others, and aids them in pooling their resources to influence national discussion surrounding toxic chemicals and the regulation thereof. If there’s been a law governing anything to do with toxic chemicals in your state, the ACC has probably had a hand in it.

Despite all this involvement, they swear they don’t lobby …

According to ACC president and CEO Cal Dooley, the association “does not advocate with state legislatures or state regulatory agencies on [chemical companies’] behalf related to flame retardant chemistries.”

Cal Dooling testifying before a Senate sub-committee
Cal Dooling testifying before a Senate sub-committee

But the ACC has been caught fighting state efforts to regulate chemicals found to cause cancer, diabetes, infertility, and IQ deficits.

The Center for Public Integrity found the ACC engaged in lobbying efforts against three Californian bills that would have restricted the use of chemical flame retardant linked to numerous serious health problems.

The bills, filed in 2007, 2009, and 2010 respectively, were ultimately crushed by the opposition. Furthermore, research by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice uncovered data that exposed the major role of the ACC in “[helping to] defeat, amend or postpone the passage of more than 300 flawed bills dealing with chemicals and plastics in 44 states.”

They killed a bill to keep chemicals out of the hands of children.

A 2014 Connecticut bill would have allowed the state’s Public Health Department to identify and provide citizens in the state with a list of chemicals harmful to children. The three-page bill, which would have cost the state virtually no money to implement, was killed by lobbyists from the ACC and state business organizations without it even reaching a vote.

Grant D. Gillham, a chemistry industry whistleblower, said while testifying on a piece of Californian legislation that would require labels for chemicals in children’s products, “Over a five-year period of time we [the ACC and chemical industry lobbyists] killed 58 of 60 bills like this throughout the country”.

AND the ACC set up a fake fire safety group as a front for their agenda.

A 2012 investigation by the Chicago Tribune revealed that the advocacy group Citizens for Fire Safety, which presented itself as an unaffiliated grassroots lobbying organization, was actually a front for the chemical industry and the ACC.

In 2007, a bill that would have banned some forms of flame retardant came up for a vote in California’s state legislature. Concerned over potential loss of profits, ACC member companies Albemarle, Chemtura, and ICL Industrial Products schemed to create Citizens for Fire Safety to lobby on their behalf in defeating the bill.

They bombarded television and radio with ads like this one, concealing their agenda behind supposed concern for public welfare:


This group paid burn victims, children, and even a top burn surgeon to testify to the need for and safety of flame retardants in furniture. The surgeon, David Heimbach, admitted to being paid $240,000 by industry officials to tell a wrenching – and entirely false – account of a baby who was burned in a fire due to a lack of flame retardants in the pillow she was laying on.

Let’s take a moment to let that sink in: They literally paid an M.D. to provide false testimony about a baby bursting into flames to protect their bottom line.

Manipulative tactics such as this convinced California lawmakers that there was no need to continue efforts to scale back flame retardant use in the state. All told, the companies spent a collective $22 million on lobbying efforts to kill the 2007 California legislation.

The ACC essentially wrote a bill that would block states from regulating actual poison.

Reports suggest that the most popular Senate update to current legislation originated with the ACC and the chemical industry. As the San Francisco Gate reported,

“The draft bill, obtained by Hearst Newspapers, is in the form of a Microsoft Word document. Rudimentary digital forensics — going to “advanced properties” in Word — shows the “company” of origin to be the American Chemistry Council.”

The ACC has spent $190 million on lobbying for this bill, as well as thousands of dollars on tv ads supporting co-sponsors of the legislation, such as Sen. Tom Udall (D – N.M.) and Kay Hagan (D – N.C.). Creating television spots for these candidates is a way for the ACC to support campaigns without having to register contributions with the Federal Elections Committee.

Conclusion: ACC uses our corrupt political system to push their agenda at the local, state, and federal level.

As absurd as that sounds, with campaign finance law in shambles and regulatory bodies facing budget shortfalls, chronic understaffing, and instances of out-and-out corruption, agencies overseeing the ACC are virtually powerless to keep them from engaging in this technically legal behavior.

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