Home > Uncategorized > Chemical Industry Attacks Bill To Ban “Forever Chemicals” PFAS

Chemical Industry Attacks Bill To Ban “Forever Chemicals” PFAS

Corporate Business Community Coalition Blasts State Government Regulation

National Lobbyists Parachute Into Trenton

Multi-Billion Dollar Legal Settlement By 3M Provides Backdrop

Murphy DEP Hiding Under Their Desks

Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest without making a sound – although not reported by the NJ media outlets that have written scores of PFAS stories – last week, a cavalry of corporate power invaded Trenton to testify in opposition to a bill that would ban and require labeling of certain products that contain toxic “forever chemicals” PFAS.

For a set up story on that bill, S3177, the Protecting Against Forever Chemicals Act”see:

In a highly unusual move, both chemical industry and environmental groups imported out of state muscle to make their case.

This only happens on important precedent setting legislation.

The debate raged for an hour and a half – also a highly unusual event. You can listen to the testimony here, It begins at time 1:52:00.

Chairman Smith put the controversial bill up last, likely in hopes that any reporters present would have left the room. And in another unusual move, he then left the hearing and turned it over to vice-Chair Greenstein. I suspect this was no accident, as Senator Smith is a lawyer and received an undergraduate degree in chemistry and he’s obviously been barraged with the corporate lobbyists fire.

Before he left, Smith opened the testimony with a bang:

Our last item of business for the day, and the one that has received the most comments and inputs is our PFAS bill. …

I hope you’re watching what’s going on around the country. We just had the first settlement of PFAS [litigation] – it’s called the Stuart, Florida case (read the 3M $10 billion settlement). …. because of the cost of treatment of water in their water systems.

Ask yourself the questions: Why are the manufacturers of these chemicals willing to pay hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of millions of dollars if there’s not a big problem?


But Smith failed to mention or probe the status of NJ’s pending PFAS lawsuits, as I suggested:

The status and role of the DEP PFAS lawsuits also need to be explored in detail (see this and this):

The Murphy DEP was a no show.

With a story this huge, where is intrepid NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle, who has written dozens of stories on PFAS?

The corporate attack on the bill was led by the NJ Chemistry Council and the Household and Commercial Products Assc. They were joined by NJ based corporate groups including the  NJBIA, NJ Chamber of Commerce, NJ Food Council, NJ SEED, the NJ Commerce and Industry Assc., the NJ Paint and Coatings Assc., and Honeywell.

It is rare that a named corporation – Honeywell – openly attacks an environmental bill. They almost always hide behind associations like the Chemistry Council, NJ BIA, or Chamber of Commerce.

The were joined by national DC based heavyweight, the American Chemistry Council (ACC). It is rare for the national corporate lobbyists to appear to testify in Trenton. That alone illustrates the high stakes.

The ACC actually had the gall to oppose legislation and regulation in favor of a “product stewardship” model, the discredited slogan for their failed “voluntary compliance” initiative that paraded under the Orwellian slogan “Responsible Care”.

Interestingly, the ACC testimony praised California Governor Newsom for vetoing a Californian bill in favor of pending lame EPA notification regulations. No doubt, that was pitched to fellow presidential aspirant Gov. Murphy and intended as a warning shot across the bow of corporate Democrats who pose as “green”.

But in typical misleading fashion, ACC failed to mention that Newsom signed legislation to ban PFAS is cosmetics and textiles. That kind of misleading testimony is typical, see:

The corporate lobbyists attacked everything from the science to what they claimed was an overly broad definition of PFAS and an attack on trade secrets and propriety corporate information.

The opposed State level legislation in favor of uniform (and weak) federal EPA regulations.

One national corporate player, the Orwellianly named “Sustainable PFAS Action Network” exposed major flaws in the bill by supporting the “source reduction” approach and provisions of the bill. As I wrote, they are NOT “source reduction”, they are sham:

3. Section 16 – Source reduction – Ongoing DEP regulatory program

The bill’s approach to “Source reduction” is inconsistent with and in conflict with NJ law, regulation, and policy pursuant to the Pollution Prevention Act and the Solid Waste Management Act (as amended by the Toxic packaging Reduction Act and Dry Cell Battery Management Act).

Both those laws address and establish a DEP regulatory program for toxics use reduction and impose obligations on the private sector and manufacturers.

The NJ corporate case was made by revolving door former DEP officials Ray Cantor (NJ BIA) and Dennis Hart (Paint & Coatings Assc.), who now serve as corporate whores.

The NJ environmental community was represented by the usual suspects, Environment NJ, Clean Water Action, and Sierra Club, and supplemented by colleagues from California, Maine, Minnesota, and national groups.

Not surprisingly, NJ Audubon, now led by a former Exxon Mobil “scientist”, was a no show as well. Perhaps that is why former head of NJA Gov. Affairs Eileen Murphy, who worked on the PFAS issues, recently resigned.

Like I said, I have not been working on these issues and am not up to speed on them and what other states are doing, but based on reading the bill and listening to the testimony, it seems clear that industry already has secured concessions to what is now a relatively weak bill, and they are mounting a full court press to either gut the bill entirely or kill it.

This debate provided no surprises, but I was disappointed if not surprised by the lack of NJ Spotlight overage .

This is another revealing example of their lame pro-business approach. Based on their reliance on corporate funders and corporate friendly foundations, they don’t cover high stakes corporate issues like this (Instead of covering it, today, Jon Hurdle did another story on Red Knot, following the recent prior NPR coverage. The NPR story relied heavily on former NJ DEP biologist Larry Niles, so not surprisingly NJ DEP escaped scrutiny).

I’ll predict this bill either quietly goes away, or is further amended to gut the bill and then buried by the Senate Budget Committee (Chaired by Sarlo) where all environmental bills go to die.

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