In attempt to have federal regulators disregard the findings of a study that warns about the harmful ecological effects of certain pesticides, Dow Chemicals appears to be trying to leverage political influence with the new Trump administration.
According to a report by the Associated Press, attorneys for Dow and some other chemical companies sent letters to some administration Cabinet officials earlier this month, calling for them to “set aside” findings by researchers with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which concluded that the pesticides chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion could be harmful to 1,800 species who are threatened or endangered.
The EPA report found that the pesticides were so virulent that they tended to endanger any species they tested them against. The study’s 10,000 pages of findings, which encompassed almost four years of research, was supposed to be used to help the government set limits on the pesticides’ use, including how much, where and when they are used. However, Dow’s letter claims that the agency’s findings were critically flawed.
The letter argues that the EPA was selective in the studies it examined, allowing some non-scientific studies to factor in while ignoring some studies which met the agency’s guidelines for inclusion. It also claims that the EPA was overly broad in what species it considered by including some species not on the endangered species list.
Many are concerned that the letter is the latest attempt by Dow Chemical to exert its ample influence on the White House to further its business interests at the sake of environmental protection and public health.
Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to President Donald Trump, leading his manufacturing jobs initiative, and is one of 24 CEOs who has met with Trump to advise him on stripping away federal environmental and safety regulations, trade issues, and job growth.
In addition, the company donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee in December.
Some signals suggest that the chemical manufacturer’s political efforts have already paid off. Last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ignored conclusions from the scientists who work for him after they warned that chlorpyrifos should be banned, because it can caused developmental problems in babies, even at extremely low levels of exposure.
However, Pruitt was highly critical of the EPA in the past, even without urging from Dow, and sued the agency a number of times before being appointed to lead it.
The administration has not yet officially responded to the Dow letters, which were sent to Pruitt as well as the heads of the Department of Commerce and the Department for the Interior.