May 26, 2012

Congressmen Fulfill Lobbyist Request, File Letter Requesting Carcinogenic Chemicals In Their Own Buildings

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
When lobbyists ask them to jump, lawmakers often ask how high. We’ve documented many examples of how corporate interests manipulate members of Congress like marionette dolls. But a recent letter from Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), signed by 55 of his colleagues, takes the cake.

At issue is a pitched lobbying battle between makers of toxic flame retardants, many of which are widely used in office buildings despite little evidence that they reduce fire threats, and a call from the scientific and health community that these products are linked to cancer. A masterful Chicago Tribune investigation revealed a decades-long campaign by the chemical industry to conceal the cancer-causing risks associated with these flame retardants. Over the years, scientific studies have showed how these chemicals cause a range of health problems, including cancer, mental problems, and infertility. Nicholas Kristoff, a columnist for the New York Times, called the reporting series “a case study of everything that is wrong with money politics.”

Chemical companies, however, are not giving up. Lobbyists, like Cal Dooley (see our coverage of Dooley in the Republic Report), recently issued an “action alert” to Congress to prevent the General Services Administration from implementing LEED standards to rid federal office buildings of these toxic flame retardants.

Congressmen, eager to please their chemical industry benefactors, moved swiftly to comply with Dooley’s request. The Federal Times reports:

The General Services Administration should stop using the LEED rating system to grade how green its buildings are, 56 House lawmakers from both parties said in a May 18 letter to GSA’s acting administrator Dan Tangherlini. […]

“We are deeply concerned that the LEED rating system is becoming a tool to punish chemical companies and plastics makers and spread misinformation about materials that have been at the forefront of improving environmental performance — and even occupancy safety — and in buildings,” the lawmakers wrote.

Yes, these members of Congress are demanding that carcinogenic chemicals, some of which are linked to infertility and other health problems, be used in their own office buildings. It might seem almost comical until you consider the factors that lead to such absurdity. Of course, chemical companies are big campaign contributors. But Dooley has another trick up his sleeve. Exploiting Citizens United and other recent Supreme Court decisions that allow corporations to spend freely on campaign advertisements, Dooley has been running ads across the country to benefit members of Congress who are loyal to the chemical industry agenda.

  • malilo

    Well, if it’s linked to infertility, we can only hope that it works, and these idiots are unable to contribute to our future gene pool.

  • Kevin Schmidt

    The signers have gone completely mad. For the health and well being of their constituents, as well as the rest of Congress who occupy that building, these traitors need to be removed from office immediately!

    So when do they let people start smoking in public buildings again?

    • CatKinNY

      There was actually quite a fight over the banning of smoking in public buildings, with the breakdown along party lines in exactly the manner you’d expect. Those ‘nanny state’ Democrats were for the ban, while those ‘freedom loving’ Republicans were against it. The highlight (and a real lesson in the power of money in politics) for me was Sen Bob Dole, usually so quick to call call ‘bullshit’ (and bipartisan in his scorn), standing on the floor of the Senate, saying that there was no proof that cigarette smoke was any more harmful than milk! Needless to say, the Democrats won this fight, and public opinion has followed.

      The asbestos industry may have been insufficiently ‘punished’ by your lights (though the individual lawsuits continue apace and are very often big winners), but it was dealt with in the same manner as is the dog who kills the toddler: it was euthanized. I hope whoever is running against these chemical company shills focuses like a laser on these chemicals themselves, because these guys will try to spin this as taking a stand against eco friendly building standards, something that sells well among the low information voters who tend to vote Republican.

  • Joe Ratliff

    This is just another example of the type of stupid, ignorant moronic assholes that a broken, totally corrupt congressional system attracts.

  • Poopsie37

    Let’s not forget we went to the polls and voted for these folks to represent us. Come November vote them out. Not along party lines. That is the biggest issue. However. We stand the chance of getting more inexperienced tea baggersgers in the process.

  • MariaEC

    We need to have some sort of standardized intelligence test in order to run for office. That people this painfully stupid are actually being paid to represent the rest of us is just a sad, disgusting travesty.

    • Preston Law

      Not quite. These people aren’t stupid at all; they know that stuff like this is practically the only viable way to get money from these corps so they can get reelected, as long as Citizens United remains unredacted.

      • MariaEC

        We have elected officials that reject evolution, reject climate change and science, believe the earth is 6000 years old and think that women secrete a substance if they’re raped which prevent them getting pregnant from the act. Trust me, they’re morons. This isn’t just an act. They’re actually THAT stupid. I agree though on getting CU redacted but certain southern and plains states will still elect their Bubbas even if they were limited to a few billboards on some farmers’ barns and a banner trailing off a crop duster.

  • Adirondackjdaye

    this isn’t going to end. what can we do about it ?

    • Four3india

      Stop elections. Select people for congress like people a chosen for a jury. Two from each state for the senate and one from each district for the house.

      • Kramer, Cosmo

        Have you seen a jury pool from Los Angeles? Oh, Lawdy! There has to be a better way, but I commend you for trying.

  • Nukefencer

    Should submit a letter requesting that the stuff be used in their homes and the homes of their children and grandchildren. If it’s safe and reduces the chance of fire they should be all for it. If they really believe this, they can be first in line to sacrifice their own as test subjects.

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