Lawyer Monthly - September 2023

the danger and allow the polluter to expose people to more of the chemical than appropriately updated science ever would. Polluters write the science Billions of dollars ride on environmental regulation. Whether regulators allow industry to contaminate the air to one ‘part per billion’ per cubic metre of a certain carcinogen, or one-tenth of that, can have extraordinary financial consequences for the profits of companies in the industry. A company having to buy and install expensive pollution control equipment or use and emit much less of the chemical than called for in its business plan, in order to meet more stringent air quality requirements, can significantly erode profits. The pollution industry’s response to this is to try to control the outcomes of scientific studies that provide the basis for regulations. And so many of the scientific studies which opine about how safe or unsafe a chemical is, and thus are critical in determining regulations, are actually performed by scientists who are paid pollution industry consultants, or are funded by lobbyists and companies who make money using and selling the chemical that is the subject of the study. This is a blatant conflict of interest. However, as polluters see it, the conclusions of these studies can so greatly impact profits that they cannot be left to the work of independent or public health scientists. Industry controls the regulatory and law-making processes Just as they do with the consequences of scientific studies, billions hang in the balance when environmental regulations and laws are made by agencies and legislative bodies, and the pollution industry makes certain that it has a firm grip on each. For example, today, a contested campaign for a United States Senate seat – the holder of which casts important votes about whether or not to enact environmental laws – can cost $100 million or more. Where does such money come from? Certainly not from the disadvantaged communities with the most to lose from breathing polluted air or drinking polluted water. No, not surprisingly, the money comes from companies who profit by lax, or non-existent, or un-enforced, environmental laws and regulations. That is why the wealthiest polluters in the world, and their PACs and lobbyists, are among the most significant and active campaign contributors to American elections. Increasing numbness to cancer risk When I began work as an environmental lawyer in 2000, government health agencies typically would not allow exposure of human beings to MY LEGAL LIFE 25

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