May 26, 2012

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

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.