Americans need a good chemical industry. We need a chemical industry that provides safe, well-paid, secure jobs for its workers. That protects the health and safety of the workers and communities it affects. That provides the rest of us safe materials that minimize destructive impacts both in production and in use. And that contributes effectively to the transition to a sustainable, climate-safe world. Such an industry could provide hundreds of thousands of good jobs promoting the well being of our planet and its people.
Unfortunately, that is not the chemical industry we’ve got. In the past twenty years, the American chemical industry has cut nearly 40% of its jobs; if current trends continue it will cut half of its remaining US jobs by 2030. The industry exposes workers, consumers, and communities to tens of thousands of chemicals whose safety is unproven and whose characteristics it keeps secret. It has little accountability for its impacts on local and global environments ““ and it uses its vast resources to fight such accountability. And it is doing little to implement a new “green chemistry” that can help convert the world to a sustainable basis. You could call it bad chemistry.
Fixing Bad Chemistry: Jobs, Workers, Toxics and the Future of the Chemical Industry is a guide to moving from the bad chemical industry we have to the good chemical industry we need. It tells how to protect the lives and livelihoods of workers in the chemical industry while also protecting the environment. It is designed first and foremost for those on the front line, chemical workers themselves, and more broadly for their potential allies concerned with protecting local communities and the broader environment. It is also intended for anyone concerned about our transition to a society that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable and just.