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The Evidence : Regulatory War

"Chemicals are among the most highly regulated products in commerce," the American Chemistry Council tells the public. However, the industry's own private documents – examined in TRADE SECRETS: A MOYERS REPORT – reveal a decades-long effort to limit the regulation of toxic chemicals.

"Gentlemen, this is a campaign that has the dimension and detail of a war," wrote one committee chairman of the Chemical Manufacturer's Association (now called the American Chemistry Council) in a 1979 report to the CMA board of directors. The report lays out plans "to moderate, change or stop governmental regulations in the pollution control arena," and urges more corporate financial support to fund "an effective army" that would include lobbyists, lawyers and public relations specialists. "The dollars expended on offense," the committee chairman wrote, "are token compared to future costs." It is a plan that has largely worked.

The pages that follow offer examples of the industry's strategy in waging its regulatory war – a war that continues to this day.

Prop 65 poster
In 1986, Californians managed to pass Proposition 65, despite an expensive campaign by the industry to defeat the right-to-know measure.
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Fighting Right-to-Know
The chemical industry amassed a war chest of millions of dollars to fight citizen-sponsored initiatives that would require companies to tell the public about toxic chemicals contained in products and released into the environment.

Voluntary Testing
In 1998, the chemical industry was widely praised for volunteering to conduct health effects testing on chemicals produced in quantities of over a million pounds a year. Private industry documents show that the industry had long planned voluntary cooperation as a strategy to avoid mandatory testing and "restrictive" regulations.

Audit Privilege Secrets
At least 25 states have quietly adopted "audit privilege" laws, a new - and largely unreported - strategy that allows industries to keep problems, like pollution or worker safety, secret – permanently.

EPA logo
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Photo Credits: KRON-TV, EPA

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