For Immediate Release
November 20, 2003
Environmental Working Group (EWG)
Bill Walker, EWG: (510) 444 0973
Lauren Sucher, EWG: (202) 667-6982
CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES SECRET PLAN TO ATTACK CALIFORNIA'S
ANTI-TOXIC TREND - Memo Calls for Phony Front Groups, Spying on Activists
OAKLAND, CA, Nov. 20, 2003 The chemical industry plans to conduct a covert
campaign attacking the growing movement in California for more chemical
safety testing, with tactics including the creation of phony front groups and
spying on activists, according to an internal American Chemistry Council (ACC)
memo obtained by Environmental Working Group (EWG).
TRW note: Dow Chemical Company is a dues paying member of the ACC.
The memo, (copy is available at the end of this page and at www.ewg.org), offers a rare
inside glimpse of the deceptive and underhanded tactics used by some corporations and public
relations firms to lobby against tougher environmental regulations. It recommends that
ACC, the lobbying association for U.S. chemical companies, hire a crisis
communications firm that promotes itself as the attack dog of the public
relations industry to fight back against California's adoption of laws and
regulations that embrace the precautionary principle.
The precautionary principle, a policy that says new chemicals should not be
allowed on the market unless they are proven safe, has gained a strong
foothold in Europe, and in recent years California has enacted measures applying the
principle to several pollutants including, most recently, chemical flame
retardants. Despite the fact that two-thirds of the public believes that
such protections are in place already, the Bush Administration has opposed their
realization here in the U.S.
The memo warns that the state embrace of the precautionary principle is
a threat to the entire U.S. chemical industry because California's
political climate makes the state more susceptible to policy and thinking inspired by
the PP [precautionary principle] than other geographic region... California is a
bellwether state, and any success enjoyed here could readily spill over to
other parts of the country.
It recommends to ACC members that they pay $120,000 a year to
Nichols-Dezenhall, a Washington-based firm that hires former FBI and CIA
agents, to conduct selective intelligence gathering ... about the plans, motivations and allies
of opposition activists... Focus on the PP movement leadership in the U.S., and in particular, California.
The memo says Nichols-Dezenhall would also create an independent PP
watchdog group to act as an information clearinghouse and criticize the PP in public
and media forums... The group could be structured as a tax-exempt
EWG obtained the document from a confidential source outside the chemical
industry who received it from ACC, which was recruiting other industries as
allies in the campaign. Microsoft Word data embedded in the document
confirms that it was written in July by Tim W. Shestek, an ACC lobbyist in Sacramento.
In a Nov. 19 letter to ACC's President Greg Lebedev and Vice President for
State Governmental Affairs Roger Bernstein, EWG asked if the association had
hired the firm to execute the plan. Among Nichols Dezenhalls reported
tactics are digging through the trash of its clients opponents. (The letter is
available at the end of this page or at www.ewg.org.)
Creating phony front groups is patently deceptive in its effort to use
third parties to carry the message because, understandably, the ACC lacks
credibility and trust in any discussion of the safety of its members
products, saidthe letter from Bill Walker, EWG's vice president for the West Coast.
However, the third tactic, selective intelligence gathering, pushes the ethical
envelope toward dirty tricks, given Nichols-Dezenhall reputation for such
As someone whose trash might be searched, Walker said today, at
least like to know the lengths ACC is planning on going to in order to stop
common-sense public protections in the State of California. ACC has spent
millions on advertising and corporate PR to position itself as a solid corporate
citizen, with nothing to hide from the public.
EWG is a non-profit public health and environmental watchdog organization
that uses the power of information to give people the information they need
to be engaged environmental citizens in their communities.
Perseverance is the path to victory
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Copy of ACC memo appears below
Precautionary Principle Campaign Proposal
The Precautionary Principle (PP)
The American Chemistry Council believes that the Precautionary Principle is a top priority and an emerging issue in California for two main reasons: it has affected and is negatively affecting a cross section of California industry in a variety of ways; and Californias political climate makes the state more susceptible to policy and thinking inspired by the PP than other geographic region.
Californias business community has done little to date to counter the PP, largely allowing PP proponents to control the debate and spread their messages unfettered. Should this trend continue, industry runs the risk of allowing the PP to gain additional momentum, with potentially much broader and more severe implications. Moreover, California is a bellwether state, and any success enjoyed here could readily spill over to other parts of the country.
Proposed Strategies and Tactics
In order to help California industry build awareness and respond to legislative and regulatory attacks on an as-needed basis, the American Chemistry Council is supporting and recommends an aggressive awareness campaign as outlined in the following strategies and tactics. We also believe that in order for such a campaign to succeed, it must be deployed in close coordination with and with an aim to complement and enhance the business communitys current and future legislative advocacy efforts.
PROPOSED FIRST YEAR BUDGET
Based on their previous experience executing similar tactics for other clients, Nichols-Dezenhall estimates that the communications/public affairs program outlined in this memorandum would cost in the range of $12,500 - $15,000 per month (not including out-of-pocket expenses, e.g., travel costs, materials, printing, ally reimbursement, other costs listed below) during periods of intense activity, and $5,000 - $7,500 per month when the legislature is out of session. This estimate is subject to change if the proposal is trimmed or additional tactics added.
This estimate assumes that N - D Sacramento VP Dan Kramer and N-D Los Angeles VP Ryan Knoll, will serve as senior project managers and that N - D will be responsible for ensuring proper execution of tactics and strategies as well as the coordination of on-the-ground allies and assets.
Recruit & Mobilize Third Parties .. $25,000
Media Outreach . $20,000
Recruit & Mobilize Allies . $15,000
Research and Investigation ... . $10,000
Study .. $15,000
This cost estimate is not a retainer. Nichols - Dezenhall only charges for hours worked on client-authorized projects.
N D will be responsible for ensuring effective execution of the strategies and tactics and for coordinating on-the-ground allies and resources.
In the event we decide to move forward with all, or a portion, of this proposal N-D will be available to provide advice and counsel on a daily basis.