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The Politics of Rocket Fuel: The Perchlorate Study Group and Its Industry Backers

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Publication Date: March 2006

Publisher(s): Environment California Research and Policy Center

Author(s): Travis Madsen; Sujatha Jahagirdar

Funder(s): California Endowment

Funder(s): California Endowment

Topic: Environment (Water, waterways, and water management)

Keywords: water quality; water pollution; perchlorate

Type: Report

Coverage: California


California state agencies have discovered perchlorate--the main ingredient in solid rocket fuel--contaminating almost 400 water sources since 1997, including the Colorado River and hundreds of municipal wells. In 1992 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the first steps toward requiring cleanup of perchlorate from drinking water. In response, a group of manufacturers and users of rocket fuel joined to form the Perchlorate Study Group with the stated intention of helping EPA by providing scientific information. However, documents from the internal files of participants in the Perchlorate Study Group reveal that, much like the tobacco industry, these companies paid millions of dollars to fund misleading research and millions more to influence the scientific and public debate, aiming to weaken regulations and reduce liability.