New York Times: Livin the Dream, a chemical-free world

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New Chemicals

Today s New York Times has an editorial which future generations will read and discuss as evidence of the former paper of record s descent into its own fantasy-land. Entitled An Opening to Strengthen Chemical Regulations, the disconnect between reality and the solipsism of the Times editorial board is put into high relief by their thesis: Now (I paraphrase) that we got the inch we sought via the proposed reform of 1976 s TSCA chemical regulation bill thanks to years of negotiations between hard-line anti-chemical lawmakers led by Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and his dogged opponents led by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) let s try to get the mile we really wanted.

The new proposal, called the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), gave some of what they desired to both sides, as a compromise should. In fact, as we discussed here not long ago, there was really no need for the original TSCA law to be reformed, as it was working quite well. But the proposed CSIA gave in to the chemophobic fringe by mandating pre-market tests on chemicals, and gave in to the opponents of reform by protecting trade secrets of the chemical companies. Despite these relatively harmless changes, it seems likely that even this will be passed only after a struggle against foes on both sides.

What does The Times think? Now is the opportunity for those forces demanding tighter chemical restrictions (specifically California s left-wing Sen. Boxer) to seize the day and figure out how to strengthen the bill without torpedoing its chances for bipartisan support. They cite as their sources of inspiration for this idea the centrist NRDC, as well as the well-known research NGO, the Environmental Working Group!

These far-out activist anti-chemical, anti-technology groups have nary a researcher between them! Yet these represent the sane, middle-ground for the Times. Even the FDA has told the NRDC to jump in the lake on several occasions because of their agenda-driven harassment via litigation to get various demon chemicals banned. And aside from this bizarre depiction, the erudite editors seem to have ignored the years of negotiation that got the reform this far: now they say, just make it a little bit stronger and hope no one will notice.

The Times has long abandoned any semblance of objectivity when it comes to the risk of chemicals in the environment (see all those scare-mongering columns by the on-sabbatical Nicholas Kristof for evidence). Now, to any neutral observer, they have lost any claim to balanced perspective and any claim to credibility whatsoever.