U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Fights Regulations On Penis-Deforming Chemicals

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue

As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — one of the largest and most influential big business lobbying groups in the world — fired a letter off to Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, telling him to block the regulation of extremely toxic chemicals in consumer plastics. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the dangers of such chemicals, the chamber letter declares that that EPA “lacks the sound regulatory science needed to meet the statutory threshold for a restriction or ban of the targeted chemicals.”

A wide body of scientific research has linked these chemicals, including phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), to declining birth rates, stillbirths, and an increasing number of birth defects. Many of the chemicals under review for increased regulation have already been banned in Europe and Canada.

In fact, studies have shown that these plastic chemicals are directly linked to an alarming rate of male genital birth defects such as hypospadias, a condition in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis. A report by the Center for American Progress’ Reese Rushing details many other risks associated with the chemicals slated for regulation.

The Chamber letter to Sunstein is signed by chief lobbyist Bill Kovacs. Why is Kovacs fighting so aggressively to continue to allow birth defect and miscarriage-causing chemicals to be used in household items and food containers? Perhaps it is because the Chamber is heavily funded by some of the largest plastics manufacturers in America. According to investigations by the New York Times and ThinkProgress, Dow Chemical and Proctor & Gamble have contributed millions to the Chamber’s war chest in recent years.

Both companies have lobbied heavily on legislation like the the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010, a bill that would have placed BPA on a priority list of chemicals for the EPA to address. Contacted by ThinkProgress, a representative from Dow’s government affairs office said that the company is “among many businesses” that support the Chamber, and that “they’re for us.” She referred us to a senior lobbyist, who has not returned ThinkProgress’ calls. A message left with Proctor and Gamble has not yet been answered.

As ThinkProgress has reported, the Chamber often acts as a front for corporations to maintain anonymity while pursuing ugly lobbying campaigns. In the past, the Chamber has gone to bat for defense contractors seeking to restrict the ability for their own employees to sue after being raped on the job, for bailed out banks to lobby against Obama’s financial reforms, and for health insurance companies to secretly run ads against health reform.

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