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Killing Right-to-Know: The CMA gets a little help from their 'friends'

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Most disturbingly, CMA sought to use every possible group or institution they could to lend credibility to their efforts. The strategy seems to have been avoiding mandatory RTK disclosures by releasing carefully controlled information through channels not tainted by public distrust of the chemical industry:

  • "There was a question by Mr. McCombs whether there is any existing resource to assist in developing strategies for handling [RTK] initiatives. Possibilities included the Public Affairs council, the nuclear industry and the Edison Electric Institute. (view entire document)

  • "Bill Westendorf described the recent Louisiana conference aimed at diffusing the Proposition 65 movement. . . . Mr. Westendorf also mentioned the possibility of the California Hall of Science [the University of California's Lawrence Hall of Science] working with the Louisiana Department of Education to educate teachers on ways to improve their students' knowledge of science, especially chemistry. (view entire document)

  • "Dick then discussed risk communication and previous work by the Lawrence Hall of Science, the League of Women Voters and some member companies such as Shell. He said there is also a program being funded by the National Science Foundation working with 4-H Clubs of America." (view entire document)

CMA's anti-RTK octopus had another arm, a program called Community Awareness Emergency Response. CAER, a forerunner of CMA's Responsible Care initiative of the 1990s, organized agencies and regulators at the local level to participate in a voluntary program controlled by industry as an alternative to right-to-know and real regulation.

CMA saw that CAER, as opposed to mandatory disclosure of information, "gives us the opportunity to deal from strength in conducting our future communications activities at the plant level." But later, when CMA tried to apply that good-neighbor model to an effort to "educate" local communities about air pollution, its members were not so willing to divulge any truly damaging information:

Quoted Text
(view entire document)

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last updated: march.27.2009

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