House Committee Probes ACC | Chemical & Engineering News
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Issue Date: April 3, 2008

House Committee Probes ACC

Chemical industry's influence on EPA review panels to be examined
Department: Science & Technology, Government & Policy
Credit: Courtesy of John Dingell
Credit: Courtesy of John Dingell

The American Chemistry Council's role in determining who sits on government scientific peer review panels is being investigated by the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The ACC probe is part of a larger committee investigation into ACC and chemical industry influence over EPA science panels, according to an April 2 letter to ACC from Reps. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the committee, and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of its Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee.

Specifically, the House committee is interested in the chemical industry trade association's request to EPA in May 2007 that Deborah C. Rice, a Maine Department of Health & Human Services scientist, be removed from a peer review panel that was examining decabromobiphenyl ether. ACC had written EPA complaining of Rice's "appearance of a lack of impartiality" because she had previously testified to the Maine legislature on the dangers of the chemical.

Rice was dropped from the panel in the summer of 2007.

Committee investigators have broadened their probe, however, to include ACC's use of "consulting firms, such as the Weinberg Group, to manipulate public opinion related to certain chemicals," the letter says. The committee is also investigating ACC's relationship with the journal Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology, which is published by Elsevier.

The letter requests ACC's internal records pertaining to nine scientists with chemical industry ties who have been on EPA peer review panels, as well as information on ACC-funded subsidiaries. For instance, the committee wants information about ACC's "payments to and communications with" former American Chemical Society president William F. Carroll Jr., apparently because of his relationship with ACC and the Chlorine Chemistry Council, an ACC subsidiary that Carroll directed from 1994 to 1996 and for six months in 2006.

Carroll who has been an executive with Occidental Chemical for 30 years, told C&EN he had not been paid by ACC or the chlorine council, other than travel reimbursements. He had not seen the committee's letter and had no comment on it.

ACC officials would not comment on the letter's allegations or the investigation, saying only that officials were meeting to determine a response.

The committee has given ACC two weeks to provide the information

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