Increase in Chemical Industry campaign contributions connected to the rise of Fracking

re-posted from

Determined to block efforts to strengthen the 36-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, chemical interests have invested $375 million since 2005 to elect and influence industry-friendly political leaders, Common Cause said in a report released today.

“The dimensions of chemical industry spending documented in this study, ‘Toxic Spending,’ are staggering,” said James Browning, Common Cause’s regional director for state operations and a principal author of the report. “By following the money, we see how and why the industry has been so successful in blocking attempts to strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act.”

The report provides us with several important pieces of information; 1) how much money the chemical industry is spending to influence policy and elections, 2) which candidates and members of Congress are the recipients of this money and 3) the relationship between the increase in chemical company financial contributions at a time when fracking is exploding across the country.

Since 2005, the Chemical Industry has spent about $375 million in either lobbying or campaign contributions in order to influence policy, particularly to fight the Toxic Substance Control Act.

The recipients of the Chemical Industry’s contributions are from all over the country as you can see from this first chart.

In addition to funding candidates, the Chemical Industry has been spending lots of money to produce political ads for candidates. For example, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the American Chemistry Council has spent more than $200,000 to convince voters to reelect House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R).

The American Chemistry Council is the trade association representing the Chemical Industry, which includes roughly 150 companies involved in manufacturing and marketing chemicals. In this second chart, you can see how much money the Chemical Industry has spent on political advertising in 2012, which includes data on Michigan Representatives Fred Upton and Dave Camp.

Lastly, the increase in Chemical Industry spending on elections is in part due to the escalation in drilling for natural gas through the method known as fracking. Obtaining gas through fracking requires large amounts of “fracking fluid”—a mixture of dozens of chemicals whose effects on groundwater quality are still being studied by the EPA. Many states now require disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking but grant exemptions for chemicals that companies deem to be proprietary information, or “trade secrets.”

According to the Common Cause report,“Natural gas obtained from fracking will rise from 16 percent of all U.S. natural gas production in 2009 to 45 percent by 2035, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.12, 13 And after gas is removed from the ground, it can be sent to a chemical plant to help make more complicated chemicals that end up in consumer products.”

Here is a clear example of how corporate interests are interconnected, with the chemical industry connected to the oil & gas industry. This is important to understand if grassroots movements are going to defeat the power of these industries and prevent further environmental devastation and negative consequences to human health.