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American Chemistry Council funnels millions of dollars into political influence to soften chemical regulations


American Chemical Council
(NaturalNews) Congress's failure to update the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 has prompted numerous states to enact their own restrictions pertaining to the chemical industry. The move has forced the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a top trade organization representing North American chemical manufactures, to fight chemical regulation legislation at the state level.

The ACC argues that chemical regulation is best dealt with at the federal level through TSCA rather than a "patchwork of state regulations," but public awareness regarding the dangers of chemical exposure has forced state legislatures to take action.

In response, the ACC has redirected their focus to state-level activity by increasing its financial contributions to state and local candidates, according to a new report [PDF] from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

American Chemical Council dumping millions into fighting state-level chemical regulations

Their political spending more than tripled ahead of the midterm elections, as the group prepared to battle preemption, or laws passed by states that conflict with federal legislation. ACC describes preemption as their greatest challenge, arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be the only one responsible for deciding which chemicals are safe to use.

Careful analysis by CREW reveals that ACC's lobbying increased from $3.94 million in 2008 to $12.25 million in 2013, funding thousands of political ads backing members of Congress from both parties in an attempt to push for a "friendly overhaul of chemical safety laws."

Approximately $1.8 million was spent by the ACC in 2014, funding more than 6,000 ads for that year's election cycle, reports The Hill.

"The American Chemistry Council's pumped-up political advertising spending, campaign contributions, and lobbying dollars make it impossible for new chemical regulations to pass without its approval," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

"This is a bad sign for Americans looking to Congress and state legislators to protect their communities from the dangers of toxic chemicals."

While the ACC doesn't discriminate between political parties when it comes to their financial contributions, CREW's analysis shows a tilt towards the conservative side with 55 percent of the group's contributions going to Republicans beginning in the 2008 election cycle, but becoming even more prominent in the 2012 and 2014 election cycles.

Roughly 70 percent of ACC's contributions to federal candidates went to Republicans during the 2012 election cycle. Republicans have received about 62 percent of the group's spending in 2014.

Since 2007, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has received the most campaign contributions, totaling $38,000. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is the second largest individual recipient, accepting $32,500.

After the West Virginia chemical spill that left more than 300,000 residents without clean water for weeks, Rep. Boehner insisted that no new regulations were needed. Rep. Hoyer also took little action, but said he was open to congressional hearings to find out more about the spill.

"The ACC is increasingly running ads to support a bipartisan group of members it views as allies of the chemical industry, and appears to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more on them than must be reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)," states CREW's report.

The numbers disclosed by CREW regarding ACC's political spending are likely only a small fraction of what's truly being spent, since the only ads the group is required to report to the FEC are ads advocating the election or defeat of a candidate, known as "independent expenditures."

Independent expenditures, or so-called "electioneering communications," air within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, criteria that many ACC ads didn't meet.

Additional sources:

http://thehill.com

http://www.citizensforethics.org [PDF]

http://www.publicintegrity.org

http://www.naturalnews.com

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