American Chemistry Council
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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is a top trade association representing North American chemical manufacturers. ACC represents represents nearly 150 companies and has a $100 million budget. The group spent more than $2 million on lobbying in 2003.
ACC merged with the American Plastics Council in 2002. Formerly know as the Manufacturing Chemists' Association, then later renamed as the Chemical Manufacturers Association, ACC adopted its current name at its June 2000 membership meeting.
- 1 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 2 Against regulating greenhouse gas emissions
- 3 Battling the precautionary principle
- 4 Fighting over gas
- 5 Kids on pesticides
- 6 Messaging and PR
- 7 Inserting positive wording about plastic bags into California schoolbooks
- 8 ACC programs
- 9 ACC affiliates
- 10 Personnel
- 11 Contact information
- 12 Articles and resources
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
The ACC is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).* It was a "Director" level sponsor of ALEC's 2011 "States & Nation Policy Summit," and it was a private sector member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force in 2011.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Against regulating greenhouse gas emissions
In April 2009, ACC protested the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endangered public health and could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. "We believe that the Clean Air Act is not well-suited to address greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. Given the national implications of carbon dioxide regulation by EPA and the interdependent nature of climate and energy issues, climate policy should be discussed and developed in Congress in tandem with energy policy," said ACC President Cal Dooley. 
Battling the precautionary principle
In November 2003, the Environmental Working Group released a leaked memo drafted by Tim Shestek, a lobbyist with the ACC. The memo outlined the key features of a campaign proposal from Nichols-Dezenhall to counter growing support for the precautionary principle in California, which it argued could create a national trend.
Fighting over gas
According to a June 1, 2004 article in The Hill, the organization has been facing an internal struggle between the interests of its members, particularily over the increased price of natural gas.
ACC member companies that primarily manufacture plastics or chemicals use natural gas for heating and electricy and were upset with ACC weak lobbying position on natural gas prices. But ACC also has integrated oil and gas companies as members who benefit from high natural gas prices.
Kids on pesticides
Messaging and PR
Greg Lebedev left his position as president and CEO of ACC on June 1, 2004. The Hill reports, "[L]obbyists who spoke on condition of anonymity said the group's governing board effectively pushed Lebedev out, in part because members thought he had not moved swiftly enough to cut costs or develop a coherent association message."
In 2003, Lebedev had proposed a PR campaign for ACC to boost the industry's image. Initially pushing for a $60 million campaign, the effort is reported to have been scaled back to $20 million after complaints about the project's value.
In the fall of 2005, the ACC launched "an integrated public education campaign to raise the chemical industry's image and reputation," called "essential2." ACC hired Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, APCO Worldwide and Ogilvy & Mather for the campaign, which is expected to cost $35 million over two years.
Part of the "essential2" campaign is a new website, americanchemistry.com. In a press release, Ogilvy & Mather's David Fowler said essential2 would be a "360(degree) communication effort," including "press, television, public relations, online and employee communications." 
In the same release, ACC President and CEO Jack N. Gerard was quoted as saying, "'essential2' makes a powerful statement about how connected we all are and how central chemistry is to the health and growth of our nation. For example, the chemistry industry is America's leading exporter, accounting for 10 percent of all U.S. exports, and we generate more than half a trillion dollars for the U.S. economy each year." 
While promoting the chemical industry as vital to the economic health of the nation the ACC simultaneously lobbied against the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), a public right-to-know program. Under TRI, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency annually reports on what industries release into the air, water and land. The ACC "has urged less frequent reporting since 1999." ACC's Michael Walls said, "Just because we're used to doing something doesn't mean we should accept the inherent high costs or burden of doing it." The Bush administration supports changing the TRI so that fewer releases are reported, less frequently. EPA officials say they will "likely spend another year weighing the pros and cons" of the proposed changes, after the public comment period ends on December 5. According to federal records, the EPA "previously solicited comments from industry groups." 
Inserting positive wording about plastic bags into California schoolbooks
The American Chemistry Council (ACC), a lobbying group representing plastic bag manufacturers, successfully convinced the California Department of Education to rewrite its environmental textbooks and teachers' guides to include positive statements about plastic grocery bags. ACC wrote a letter to education department officials that said in part, "To counteract what is perceived as an exclusively negative positioning of plastic bag issues, we recommend adding a section here entitled 'Benefits of Plastic Shopping Bags.'" The state's final document was, in fact, edited to contain a new section titled "Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags." The title and some of the newly-inserted textbook language were lifted almost verbatim from letters written by the ACC. A private consultant hired by California school officials inserted a question into an environmental workbook quiz asking students to list some advantages of plastic bags. The correct answer to the question (which is worth five points) is: "Plastic bags are very convenient to use. They take less energy to manufacture than paper bags, cost less to transport and can be reused." The changes were made in 2009, and coincided with ACC's nationwide PR and lobbying push to beat back efforts across the U.S. to enact laws and ordinances banning plastic grocery bags. The changes in the environmental curriculum were discovered by the investigative reporting team California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
- American Solvents Council
- Chlorine Chemistry Council
- CIIT Centers for Health Research
- European Chemical Industry Council or CEFIC
- Hydrogen Fluoride Panel
- International Council of Chemical Associations
- Phosphate Forum of the Americas
- Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association
- Calvin M. Dooley, president and CEO; a former Democratic Congressman and Grocery Manufacturers Association president hired to replace former ACC head Jack N. Gerard, who left ACC to lead the American Petroleum Institute  
- Robert Flagg, lobbyist. "The American Chemistry Council, a massive group with a budget of $100 million, has been hampered by internal tensions after a recent merger and disagreements over what the industry should do about high natural-gas prices. But Flagg remains 'one of the unsung heroes' among industry lobbyists, one colleague says," writes The Hill.
- Tim Shestek, lobbyist
American Chemistry Council
1300 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209
Articles and resources
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- Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research, project of the Environmental Working Group, Information on American Legislative Exchange Council, archived organizational profile, archived by Wayback Machine December 2, 2000, accessed August 19, 2011
- American Legislative Exchange Council, States & Nation Policy Summit Agenda, organizational conference brochure, November 30-December 2, 2011, on file with CMD
- American Legislative Exchange Council, Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member Directory, organizational document, July 1, 2010, document obtained and released by Common Cause, 2012
- Nick Snow, "EPA issues proposed endangerment finding on GHGs," Oil & Gas Journal, April 20, 2009.
- Susanne Rust Plastics industry edited California's environmental textbook, San Jose Mercury News, August 19, 2011
- Chris Roberts Lobbyists Write Plastic Bags into Textbooks, NBC Bay Area, August 21, 2011
- Susanne Rust State taking harder look at plastic bag curriculum San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 2011
- Glenn Hess, "Cal Dooley Selected To Lead ACC: Former congressman will become president of chemical industry group," Chemical & Engineering News, July 10, 2008.
- Jim Snyder, "Dooley to head American Chemistry Council," The Hill, July 9, 2008.
- The Chemical Industry Archives is a keyword searchable archive of 37,000 pages of internal U.S. chemical industry documents - including the Chemical Manufacturers Association - obtained from legal actions and Freedom of Information requests. The archive is a project of the non-government research group Environmental Working Group.
- American Chemistry Council, Environmental Working Group, January 10, 2001.
- Environmental Working Group, Chemical Industry's Secret Plan To Attack California's Anti-Toxics Trend, Press Release, November 2003.
- Jim Snyder, "High natural-gas prices create some bad chemistry for group," The Hill, June 1, 2004.
- Juliet Eilperin, "Chemical Industry Funds Aid EPA Study," Washington Post, October 26, 2004.
- "Lobby League #35: The Chemical Industry," The Hill, April 20, 2005.
- American Chemistry Council news release, "American Chemistry Council Unveils New Public Education Campaign; American Chemistry Council Highlights How Chemistry Is essential2 life," Business Wire, September 22, 2005.
- Beth Herskovits, "Chemical Industry Aims to Boost Image," PR Week, September 26, 2005, p. 1.
- Tom Henry, "Annual polluter reports may end; U.S. EPA considering cutback to reduce costs to industry", ToledoBlade.com, November 14, 2005.
- "Court Declines Pollution Case," Associated Press, January 14, 2008.
- "Chemical industry needs nuclear," World Nuclear News, May 22, 2008.
- Glenn Hess, "ACC's Gerard Moves On: Chemical industry leader accepts top job at API," Chemical & Engineering News, June 9, 2008.
- Jennifer Muir, "Industry fights effort to ban chemical in baby products: State official, scientist criticize a chemical-industry backed campaign to keep potentially dangerous baby products on the market," Orange County Register (California), August 9, 2008.