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This report is a collaborative effort of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, a campaign dedicated to protecting American families from toxic chemicals. The report incorporates a significant body of peer-reviewed science on chemicals and health. Download the report.

 

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 News and Events
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Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012

Three major manufacturers of flame retardants today severed ties with a controversial advocacy group accused of employing deceptive lobbying tactics to accomplish its regulatory goals.

Albemarle Corp., Chemtura Corp. and the ICL Industrial Group said in a statement that they will shift their advocacy efforts to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) from the Citizens for Fire Safety Institute, a group that the companies helped create and in which they invested millions.

"After a thorough assessment of the public policy environment and our existing advocacy and communications efforts," the three companies said, "we have decided to conduct all of our state and federal advocacy, as well as value chain outreach, through the American Chemistry Council's North American Flame Retardant Alliance."

Focus on Citizens for Fire Safety has sharpened following a May Chicago Tribune investigation <http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/flames/index.html> that revealed allegedly dishonest advocacy efforts by the group and flame retardant companies.

The report found that the group, which did not always disclose that it was funded by industry, sponsored witnesses that provided questionable testimony before state legislatures on the safety of flame retardants, some of which have been linked to harmful health effects, particularly in children.

It's likely that Citizens for Fire Safety will disband following the announcement. A source familiar with the situation said the group's website will be taken off line today, but calls to the group went unreturned at press time.

ACC said yesterday that it will expand its advocacy efforts to address concerns from the three companies and challenges that lie ahead.

"We're pleased to have the opportunity to represent our member companies on the important issues surrounding the use of flame retardants," ACC's Jackson Morrill said in a statement.

ACC also emphasized that it has a record of rooting its advocacy in science, something that critics charged was deliberately lacking from Citizens for Fire Safety's effort.

The three companies have faced increased calls from public health advocates and some lawmakers to cut ties to the group. Most recently, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) pressed a Chemtura representative about its involvement and advocacy effort at a July hearing (E&E Daily <http://www.eenews.net/EEDaily/2012/07/25/archive/4> , July 25).

Damage control

Public health advocates, who increased their efforts following the Tribune series, said the announcement amounts to little more than damage control.

The Safer Chemicals, Health Families coalition, which originally called for ACC to discipline the flame retardant makers in light of the report, said it doesn't address the broader issue of the chemicals' safety.

"The problems with these companies and with the ACC are not PR problems that can be solved with re-organizing or rebranding," said Andy Igrejas, the group's leader. "They are fundamental problems of integrity."

And Daniel Rosenberg of the Natural Resources Defense Council added that "fundamentally, nothing has changed."

"No matter how many press releases, tweets, blogs, or press statements the chemical industry emits claiming support for reform," he said, "their actions tell the real story."

Posted on 8/31/2012 (Archive on 9/21/2012)

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