American Chemistry Council

Background

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is one of the main chemical industry trade associations in the US. Its members include subsidiaries of major fossil fuel companies, chemical manufacturers, and agribusinesses.

ACC members include four out of the big five pesticides manufacturers (BASF, Bayer, Corteva Agriscience, and FMC).1Member Companies”, American Chemistry Council. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/jP5B8

In a 2020 Guide to the Business of Chemistry the ACC states that agriculture is worth $19.5 billion to the U.S chemical industry – as opposed to oil and gas which stands at $5.7 billion.2Dr. T. Kevin Swift. “2020 Guide to the Business of Chemistry”, American Chemistry Council, Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/CXMB8

A 2015 Civil Eats article suggested that ACC and another lobby group, CropLife America, had a “great deal riding on the outcome” of an EU debate regarding regulating pesticides.3Elizabeth Grossman. “How Europe’s Regulation of Pesticides Could Impact Your Food”, Civil Eats, March 16, 2015. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/p1PqS

Stance on Climate Change

According to its website page on energy policy, ACC supports an “energy strategy” that “promotes and develops all of America’s own energy resources” including “conventional and shale gas,” oil and nuclear.4Energy,” American Chemistry Council. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/NcnZf

It has sought to promote the chemical industry as one of the “solutions” to climate change, though its member companies are often large polluters. “The chemical industry – and innovations in chemistry – are critical to achieving efficient and effective climate change solutions,” ACC’s Climate Policy Principles document says: “U.S. climate policy must recognize the national and industry interest in America’s oil and gas resources. U.S. policy should focus on expanding all energy and feedstock supplies.”5American Chemistry Council Climate Policy Principles”, American Chemistry Council. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/xzjjy

The ACC also adds in its Climate Policy Principles statement that “climate change is a global challenge that requires long-term commitment and action by every segment of society”. The Council writes that technology and market-based policy solutions would be needed in order to align with the goal of the Paris Agreement. These technologies will supposedly “cut emissions, improve energy efficiency and enable a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable future.”6American Chemistry Council Climate Policy Principles”, American Chemistry Council. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/xzjjy

In June 2019, commenting on plans for a US Green New Deal, ACC CEO Cal Dooley said that it would “never receive congressional action,” as he saw it as “a political document… not a policy prescription.”7Josh Siegel. “Daily on Energy: Chemical group CEO dishes on the Green New Deal, carbon pricing, and more”, The Washington Examiner, June 17, 2019. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/DMFpU

Actions

August 30, 2020

According to Unearthed, the ACC lobbied the Trump administration to prevent changes to the Basel Convention, an international agreement preventing plastic waste from entering low and middle income nations. The ACC wrote a letter calling for the US government to “prohibit imposition of domestic limits on production or consumption of chemicals and plastic and restrictions on cross-boundary trade of materials and feedstocks.”8 Emma Howard.“Oil backed trade group is lobbying the Trump administration to push plastics across Africa,” Unearthed, August 30, 2020. Archived December 14, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/bFpuJ

Writing to officials at the US Trade Representative and US International Trade Commission, the ACC stated: “Kenya could serve in the future as a hub for supplying U.S.-made chemicals and plastics to other markets in Africa through this trade agreement.”

Funding

ACC had a total revenue of $127.7 million in 2018, according to IRS filings. That included $85.8 million in membership dues.

ACC members include four out of the big five pesticides manufacturers (BASF, Bayer, Corteva Agriscience and FMC), chemical companies like Dow, Chemours Co., and DuPont, as well as subsidiaries of oil and gas giants like ExxonMobil, BP and Shell.

Lobbying

Data from OpenSecrets.org shows that ACC spent over $7.6 million on lobbying in 2019 alone, while spending $9.28 million in 2018.9Client Profile: American Chemistry Council”, Open Secrets.org. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/93ihm

Lobbying has covered issues relating to; the chemical industry, taxes, transportation, trade, utilities, consumer product safety, energy and nuclear power, homeland security, clean air and water, roads and highways, and disaster and emergency planning. In 2020, ACC lobbied the following agencies:10Client Profile: American Chemistry Council”, Open Secrets.org. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/93ihm 11Client Profile: American Chemistry Council”, OpenSecrets.org. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/Doiop

An extensive list of bills on which ACC has lobbied can be found via ProPublica, including H.R. 9, Climate Action Now Act, Climate Action Rebate Act of 2019, Clean Power Plan, and the Clean Water Act.12American Chemistry Council”, ProPublica. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/SzfdJ

In April 2009, ACC opposed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) findings that emissions from greenhouse gases could endanger public health in the US and its suggestion of greenhouse gases being regulated under the Clean Air Act. ACC CEO Cal Dooley said: “We believe that the Clean Air Act is not well-suited to address greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.”13American Chemistry Council v. EPA”, ClimateCaseChart.com, 2009. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/flycg

The Supreme Court in 2010 refused to review its decision to close a legislative loophole that environmental groups said allowed major polluters to avoid federal emissions restrictions. The case was brought by ACC and the American Petroleum Institute, among others.14Gabriel Nelson. “Supreme Court Won’t Review Decision That Caused EPA Emissions ‘Loophole’”, The New York Times, March 8, 2010. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/Usyvi

In 2015, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) accused ACC of working to promote the chemical industry over US public health. A UCS report wrote: “ACC has played a role in pushing for industry-friendly chemical policies that fail to protect public health, and it has often succeeded.”15Rebecca Trager. “U.S. Chemical Industry Lobby Group in the Hot Seat Again”, Chemistry World, July 20, 2015. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/oxuyG

In 2017, ACC’s senior director and lobbyist Stephen Risotto asked the EPA to “suspend the implementation” of a 2014 memo which laid out how regulators should clean up sites contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCEACC disputed claims it doubted science and said that it instead “worked to advance the use of rigorous, objective and peer-reviewed science as the foundation of responsible public policy and regulation of chemicals.”16Emily Holden. “Internal Emails Reveal How the Chemical Lobby Fights Regulation”, The Guardian, May 22, 2019. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/oxuyG

Writing for HuffPost on the issue, Linda Reinstein, CEO and President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, said that evidence of the ACC’s “insidious influence” was growing and argued that it was “compromising our environment and public health.”17Linda Reinstein. “American Chemistry Council Lobbyists Hiding in Plain Sight at the EPA”, The Huffington Post, 15 December 2017. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/CHciy

In 2020, it was revealed that John Seale, a Director of Affairs at ACC, was lobbying his own wife’s agency, the White House Council on Environmental Quality.18Bloomberg Environment: Environmental Regulator’s Husband Listed as Lobbying Her Agency”, Government Accountability Project, February 27, 2020. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/zYEFm

In March 2020, ACC voiced approval for the American Energy Innovation Act, a 600-page bill that would fast-track exports of fracked gas, offer over a billion dollars in “clean coal” subsidies, and direct millions towards a geoengineering project involving a technique where CO2 is vacuumed from the atmosphere.

ACC was referenced as one organisation to “welcome” the EPA’s reported “leniency” enforcing environmental regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. ACC CEO Chris Jah said in March 2020 that “many administrative activities such as regulatory filings and inspections simply may not [be] feasible during this period.”19Cheryl Hogue. “Chemical Industry Welcomes Leniency from U.S. EPA During Coronavirus Response”, Chemical and Engineering News, March 30, 2020. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/Eefzz

In a New York Times opinion piece about the way chemical and agriculture companies have lobbied for the use of chlorpyrifos, a dangerous pesticide with links to lung cancer and Parkinsons, ACC was described as “today’s version of Big Tobacco.”20Nicholas Kristof. “Trump’s Legacy: Damaged Brains”, The New York Times, October 28, 2017. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/Eefzz

Affiliations

Its members include four out of the five top pesticides manufacturers in the world (BASF, Bayer, Corteva Agriscience, and FMC) as well as subsidiaries of oil and gas giants like Shell Chemical LP, the ExxonMobil Chemical Company, BP Lubricants, Total Petrochemicals and Refining, and the Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., LLC. Corteva Agriscience joined the ACC in 2019.21(Press Release). “Corteva Agriscience Joins American Chemistry Council (ACC)”, Corteva, June 8, 2019, Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/rpvEU

German chemical giant BASF acknowledged that the ACC’s position on climate policies was “aligned” with BASF in a November 2019 “Industry Associations Review”. BASF wrote, “ACC acknowledges that carbon pricing may be one element of climate policy. Like BASF, ACC supports a political framework fostering innovation and climate protection, while safeguarding competitiveness of industry.”22Industry Associations Review,” BASF, November 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Oil giant Shell named the ACC among a number of groups and organisations where there was “some misalignment” with mutual policy goals, including support for the Paris Agreement and a price on carbon emissions. In 2019, Total recognised the ACC as being “partially aligned” with its own policies during it’s fourth Integrating Climate Into Our Strategy report. Its analysis indicated that ACC, along with the American Petroleum Institute and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, was “partially aligned” in criteria relating to the Paris Agreement, carbon pricing, developing renewable energies, and the role of natural gas.23Jennifer Thompson. “Companies asked to come clean on climate lobbying”, The Financial Times, May 13, 2019. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/HTOgj 242019 Climate Report: Total Reviews its Membership in Industry Associations in Line with their Climate Stance”, Total, November 8, 2020. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.is/fpsp8

ACC is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a closed-door organisation, which promotes free-markets and limited governments, and that has worked with a number of environmentally destructive and anti-climate companies like Koch Industries.25Integrating Climate Into Our Strategy”, Total, November 2019. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/q1dlo

In 2018, Microsoft hosted ACC to “learn and brainstorm together” to discuss the chemical industry’s “most pressing needs”. According to a LinkedIn post by Microsoft’s Principal Program Manager, the focus of the three-day event was “the path to digital transformation.”26American Legislative Exchange Council Memorandum”, Common Cause, July 1, 2010. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.pdf on file at Desmog

In 2018, ACC announced that it anticipated the petrochemical industry would spend over $200 billion on infrastructure that would rely on fracked shale gas.27Egbert Schroer. “Envisioning the Future of the Chemical Industry, Together”, LinkedIn, October 10, 2018. Archived November 9, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/ThMYE

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