September 9, 2013

In New Battleground Over Toxic Reform, American Chemistry Council Targets The States

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HARTFORD, Conn. — In the bare-knuckle war over toxic chemicals, the fight between industry and activists has shifted noticeably from Washington, D.C., to state venues such as the golden-domed Capitol that rises over Hartford like a lordly manse.

What happened this year in Hartford shows how industry — fueled by the American Chemistry Council, a $100 million a year advocacy group glittered with Fortune 500 partners — is flexing its muscles from statehouse to statehouse to beat back efforts to disclose harmful chemicals or remove them from the shelves.

In Connecticut, grassroots activists worked with state Rep. Diana Urban, a former professor of economics and politics, to craft a bill they viewed as little more than a baby step toward reform. The measure — An Act Concerning Children’s Products and Chemicals of High Concern — would have allowed the state Public Health Department to identify and list chemicals that posed dangers to children.

The bill came at zero cost to state government.

This session, it was snuffed out by an aggressive lobbying push from the ACC and state business groups, and an outcry from Republican members portraying the bill as an attack on business and duplication of federal efforts. Urban couldn’t even get it to a vote — legislative critics literally talked the three-page bill to death for more than four hours one afternoon, killing it on an appropriations deadline day with question after question that kept the clock ticking to zero.

Continue reading this story by the Center for Public Integrity here.

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