The Senate Subcommittee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing Wednesday morning to consider amending the Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates the production, importing and disposal of specific chemicals. Days earlier, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) criticized the access the American Chemistry Council seemed to have been able to get to the bill’s drafting process.
“Call me old-fashioned, but a bill to protect the public from harmful chemicals should not be written by chemical industry lobbyists,” Boxer told the San Francisco Chronicle .
The bill, if enacted, would be the first time in nearly 50 years that TSCA — which deals with chemicals like asbestos — was updated. That is a process, supporters of the bill contend, that should be informed by the industry most affected by it; but if left solely to industry, opponents respond, the result could seriously undermine the purpose of chemical regulations to protect public health.
The alleged authorship was discovered as the bill circulated Capitol offices in the form of a Microsoft Word document, and someone noticed the “company of origin” listed in the document’s digital properties was the ACC. A spokesperson for Sen.Tom Udall (D-N.M.), one of two sponsors along with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), has said the ACC’s name was put in that field by mistake.
“That document originated in our office,” said Jennifer Talhelm, Udall’s communications director, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was shared with a number of stakeholders including at least one other senator’s office. One of those stakeholders was the ACC. We believe that somebody at the ACC saved the document, and sent it back to us.”
The American Chemistry Council gave over half-a-million dollars to candidates in 2014, and spent $11.4 million on lobbying. It boasts a long list of industry members, many of which spend a pretty penny themselves to influence the federal government.