Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.Lawyers representing Dow, whose CEO also heads a White House manufacturing working group, and two other makers of organophosphates sent letters last week to the heads of three Cabinet agencies. The companies asked them "to set aside" the results of government studies the companies contend are fundamentally flawed.
At first blush, it may seem like an obscure, technical debate. The Associated Press reports that a four-year review conducted by government scientists of three pesticides -- chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion -- found that they "pose a risk to nearly every endangered species they studied." Federal agencies are poised to issue findings on how to limit use of these pesticides.The story takes on a broader political significance, however, when we consider what one of the pesticide manufacturers is up to. The AP explained:
As one might imagine, Dow is pointing to its own research, which is in conflict with the information compiled by government scientists.If this sounds familiar, there's a good reason. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's controversial far-right choice to lead the agency, decided two weeks ago to side with Dow Chemical – against the advice of the EPA's researchers – on the use of chlorpyrifos, one of the insecticides in question.Now, apparently, Dow Chemical wants Team Trump to side with the company once more.And while I'm not privy to the administration's deliberations, it seems Dow Chemical has reason to be optimistic about its chances. Not only is the Trump administration ideologically predisposed to agree with corporate interests over environmental interests, but in this case the ties between the company and the president run deep.The AP reported added, "Dow Chemical chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to President Donald Trump. The company wrote a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump's inaugural festivities.... When Trump signed an executive order in February mandating the creation of task forces at federal agencies to roll back government regulations, Dow's chief executive was at Trump's side."At a certain level, this is a classic elections-have-consequences moment. American voters were given a choice in presidential candidates, and just enough of them sided with the Republican who'd create conditions like these. The country is now stuck, at least for four years, with the consequences.But stories like these also shed new light on what Trump meant when he vowed to "drain the swamp." The phrase, a staple of Trump's campaign rhetoric, has become a laughable cliché, but let's not forget its purpose: the GOP candidate took aim not only at D.C., but also at the city's culture and legal corruption. Trump assured voters that he -- and he alone -- would change how the system in the capital worked.We now know that meant making things quite a bit worse. Dow Chemical wrote a $1 million check to Trump's shady inaugural committee; Dow Chemical's CEO became a presidential adviser; and now Dow Chemical wants its friends on Team Trump to "set aside" scientific research.I'd recommend caution before entering Donald Trump's Swamp. It's likely to soon be filled with some potentially harmful pesticides.