NY Times Op Eds Show Why LEED Chemical Credits Are Needed

Bill Walsh - August 28, 2012

This past Sunday's New York Times Week In Review contained two important opinion editorials that underscore both the need for the proposed LEED credits on chemical disclosure and avoidance, and why these proposals have earned the US Green Building Council (USGBC) such vicious attacks from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the trade association of the chemical industry. A new study from the peer reviewed journal Endocrinology measuring low dose impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals triggered Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to write: The study is devastating for the chemical industry. . . . . the opposition to endocrine disruptors is led by toxicologists, endocrinologists, urologists and pediatricians. These are serious scientists, yet they don't often have the ear of politicians or journalists. The new study in Endocrinology focuses on Bisphenol-A, a chemical widely used in building products such as epoxy-based caulks, resins and coatings. Other... Read More

"All of That Is Gone Now": Coal Waste Processors Sue EPA

Jim Vallette - August 20, 2012

The two largest processors of coal power plant waste used in building materials - Boral Material Technologies and Headwaters Resources - are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency over its indecision about regulating their products. For all concerned, it would have been better to have this discussion before coal combustion waste entered the building material market. Once a cheerleader for the "beneficial reuse" of coal power plant waste, EPA is considering quite the opposite position: regulating it as hazardous waste. Boral and Headwaters are asking the US District Court in Washington, DC, to set a three month deadline for the Agency's final determination. Inside EPA reports that the two companies filed a brief on August 14, 2012, stating that the delay "has created uncertainty in the beneficial use marketplace," including among "architects and engineers." This inaction, they say, has "direct, traceable negative impacts on the... Read More

Senate Vote Builds Case Against Toxic Commerce

Jim Vallette - July 26, 2012

Toxic commerce flourishes in the opaque US regulatory environment. For over thirty years, corporate members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have enjoyed the confidentiality and toothless nature of the most important chemical regulation that applies to them: the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). But the days of secrecy and unregulated access for new chemicals are numbered. For seven years, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) tried to push TSCA reform legislation through the Senate environment committee. On Wednesday, his Safe Chemicals Act finally cleared this hurdle by a 10-to-8 party line vote. ACC chair Cal Dooley last month called the Lautenberg bill an "extreme proposal," and Republican senators professed economic, safety, and even national security reasons not to support it. While the bill may not survive a polarized legislative branch, the vote convincingly demonstrates growing momentum for controlling toxic commerce. It reflects marketplace and public... Read More

Chemical Giants Target the USGBC: Part 2

Bill Walsh - July 20, 2012

Ramping up its assault on the US Green Building Council's initiative to offer credits for reducing toxic chemicals in LEED®-certified buildings (see Chemical Giants Target The USGBC: Part 1), the American Chemistry Council this week announced the formation of the American High Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC). This organization is comprised of 27 trade associations (including the Vinyl Institute, the Vinyl Siding Institute, and the Flexible Vinyl Alliance). It appears to be designed primarily to stop new, voluntary credits proposed for LEED that would reward efforts to slightly reduce the use of highly toxic chemicals in LEED-certified buildings, by threatening the LEED franchise among its government customers. The "Resources" section of the AHPBC website offers an exhaustive compendium of the organization's leadership initiatives: two letters, one to Congress and one to the General Services Administration, seeking to disqualify LEED from use by federal... Read More

Chemical Giants Target the USGBC: Part 1

Bill Walsh - May 22, 2012

The credibility of the US chemical industry has taken a beating in the press this month. But instead of apologizing, pledging to reform its ways, or disciplining a "few bad apples," for being caught lying red handed, the industry has doubled down and launched an all out attack on the US Green Building Council.[1] The focus of the attack - modest amendments to the LEED Rating System, two voluntary credits that address the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and other toxins in LEED-rated buildings. To recap, during the week of May 6th, the Chicago Tribune published a four-part series documenting the collusion between US chemical companies and Big Tobacco to promote the widespread use of toxic flame retardants (now widely used in building products and furnishings) that don't even reduce fire threats, but do greatly increase health threats from endocrine-disrupting chemicals in American children. The Columbia Journalism Review hailed the Tribune series as an... Read More

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