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Responsible Care: 'Bad headlines'

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Internally, the Public Advisory Committee was also worried that "a catastrophic event" such as a fatal explosion at a company that professed to endorse Responsible Care would "discredit . . . all of the work done on the program." (view entire document) One committee member asked: "How will you help the public distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys? Otherwise the kinds of improvement you achieve will be masked by bad headlines." (view entire document)

For an example of how Responsible Care's stated ideals are in direct conflict with the chemical industry's advocacy against further regulation, consider the issue of community right-to-know. The Guiding Principles of Responsible Care include "to recognize and respond to community concerns about chemicals and their operations." (view entire document)

However, in 1997, when CMA developed a new advocacy position that expressed general support for right-to-know, it was in code words ("constructive," "fair," "accurate") that more accurately illustrate the chemical industry's opposition to greater transparency. (view entire document) Similarly, a 1995 policy memo on environmental auditing shows the industry's insistence on secrecy vs. public accountability in tracking and reporting violations of state or federal health, safety and environmental laws. (view entire document) Development of these contradictory positions took place at the same meetings, and among the same key players, where Responsible Care was devised.

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last updated: march.27.2009

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