As the US federal government and Congress have mounted increasing efforts over the last few years to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a notorious class of persistent, highly mobile and potentially toxic compounds – major manufacturers of these chemicals have also ramped up their political lobbying and donation campaigns, according to an analysis by The Guardian.

Campaign finance records reveal that seven of largest PFAS producers and their industry trade groups spent at least $61 million (£44 million) during 2019 and 2020, the majority of which did not comprise campaign donations but instead funded lobbying efforts aimed at members of Congress and Donald Trump’s administration. Various proposals to address PFAS were ‘slow-walked’ by Trump political appointees, The Guardian wrote.

The data indicates that the industry focused its resources in the past few years on defeating numerous proposals that could have compelled companies to pay for the costs of cleaning up widespread PFAS pollution, the newspaper reports. ‘Lobbying records show PFAS manufacturers like Chemours, 3M, DuPont, Daikin, Arkema, Solvay and the American Chemistry Council trade group dispatched lobbyists to Congress and made donations to key congressional committee members as the bills were debated,’ it said.

Erik Olson from the Natural Resources Defense Council told The Guardian that the main tactic used by chemical industry lobbyists in this case is similar to those of the tobacco and oil lobbies, which aim to ‘create a cloud of doubt’ over clear science that demonstrates the health threat PFASs. The strategy has successfully delayed new regulations, he said.

Such lobby spending by chemical industry players is expected to remain high this legislative cycle, the paper wrote. This is because the US Environmental Protection Agency under new President Joe Biden has already put forward PFAS restrictions opposed by industry, and it is likely that failed PFAS legislation will be introduced in Congress, The Guardian explained.