Chemical Industry Caught Lying to Maine Legislators

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Chemical Industry Caught Lying to Maine Legislators Over State Lobbying Efforts

Flame Retardant Scandal Leads To Trade Group Deception

 

This week Maine lawmakers experienced for themselves a taste of the deceptive practices uncovered in a recent investigation of the toxic flame retardant industry.

On Monday, Maine Representative Sharon Treat, Maine Senator Phil Bartlett, and former Speaker of the Maine House Hannah Pingree joined a group of 21 current and former state legislators from 10 states who demanded that the chemical industry’s trade group expel three manufacturers for unethical behavior and deceptive practices.

All 21 legislators sponsored or worked directly on state regulation of toxic chemical flame retardants used in common products to protect children’s health. The letter calls on the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to remove three manufacturers of chemical flame retardants from its membership because of unethical and deceptive practices these companies used in attempts to block state bans of their products, as documented in the Chicago Tribune expose “Playing with Fire” and witnessed by state legislators across the country.

Cal Dooley, CEO of the chemical industry association, responded to the legislators with a statement that ignores the deceptive practices of his members and fails to promise any action to enforce the ACC’s principles. He also claims that the ACC itself does not lobby state legislatures or agencies regarding flame retardants. Dooley wrote: “These three companies are long-time members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), but ACC does not advocate with state legislatures or state regulatory agencies on their behalf related to flame retardant chemistries.”

“I was stunned to receive a letter from ACC indicating that they do not lobby state legislatures. They certainly lobbied the Maine Legislature when we took up legislation concerning flame retardants” said State Senator Phil Bartlett after receiving his letter from the ACC. “It is distressing that any organization would make blatantly false statements, and I hope all policymakers will be careful not to accept ACC’s assertions at face value.”

The ACC pays registered lobbyists all over the country to oppose state bans of various toxic flame retardants on behalf of the association and its member companies. In Maine, reports filed with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices indicate that the ACC lobbied on all three flame retardant bills taken up and passed by the Maine Legislature in 2004, 2007 and 2010. The lobbyists who reported working for the ACC on these bills include Leann Diehl, Stephen Rosario, and Patricia Aho.

“In Maine, we have worked hard to enact consumer protections that are science-based and rely on the best information. Unfortunately, information from the chemical industry is not always reliable, and their heavy-handed lobbying is not helpful to thoughtful decision-making. That unreliability is demonstrated in the letter I received from the ACC, which insists that they do not lobby state legislators on flame retardant policies, when in fact they have done just that,” commented Representative Sharon Treat after receiving her response letter from the ACC.

“I am disappointed in Cal Dooley’s response. Our original effort was to try to get some accountability of the flame retardant manufacturers Albermarle, Chemtura, and ICL Industrial Products because of their tactics in our state legislatures. In response, the ACC is now lying about their own record of involvement in the states. The records clearly show the ACC pays lobbyists and engages in state fights over flame retardants over and over again. Clearly this is an industry where neither their members or the trade industry leaders themselves are fond of the truth,” said former Speaker of the Maine House Hannah Pingree who sponsored the flame retardant bills Maine adopted in 2004, 2007, and 2010.

“I had a front row seat to the despicable tactics and distorted science served up by the flame retardant industry to the Maine Legislature. For the ACC to now claim they had no hand in that would be funny if it weren’t so appallingly untrue, it only serves to further undermine their credibility,” added Representative Bob Duchesne who witnessed ACC lobbyists testifying against flame retardant policies as a member of the Maine Legislatures Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

For more information:

  • Legislator Letter & ACC’s Cal Dooley Response
  • Maine’s reports of ACC paid lobbying on flame retardant bills in 2004, 2007, and 2010 can be found by clicking on the hyperlinks of the lobbyists included in this release and searching for the LD #’s and years listed below
    • LD 1790 (2004) - banned Penta in couches
    • LD 1658 (2007) - banned Deca in TVs and computers
    • LD 1568 (2010) - banned Deca in plastic shipping pallets
  • Documented evidence of ACC lobbying in Washington State and California is also available upon request