In the article {Aug. 22} describing GOP Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf's role in arranging meetings with high administration officials on behalf of clients of his law firm, an anonymous lobbyist for the Semiconductor Industry Association asserted that the SIA "successfully sought to modify the scope of {an Environmental Protection Agency} study of pollutants in California's Santa Clara Valley." This claim is false and casts an undeserved shadow on the work of the many dedicated people.

In August 1985, the EPA was about to release a major report on health hazards from toxic chemicals in the Santa Clara Valley -- also known as "Silicon Valley." Because this issue was -- and still is -- highly charged, the EPA had worked closely with local leaders and members of the public to ensure that facts were correct and all issues fairly debated.

The SIA had actively participated on the project's Public Advisory Committee for a year and a half, and had had a full opportunity to make its case. Despite this participation, the SIA, with Mr. Fahrenkopf's assistance, decided to bypass the local process established to guide the study and take its complaints directly to the EPA's top brass.

This attempt to subvert the local process threatened not only the credibility of the EPA report but also the community's traditionally cooperative and nonpartisan approach to solving its environmental problems. The SIA's actions were sharply criticized by local elected leaders, the press and responsible industry representatives.

The SIA's tactics failed. The EPA report was issued as planned, without any changes made as a result of industry pressure. The SIA lobbyist might like to believe that his efforts had some effect, but the record shows that he succeeded only in creating a public relations fiasco for the association he represented.

A happy postscript: the experimental EPA partnership with local leaders to control toxic chemicals continues today. The project has contributed to the creation of a local program for the management of hazardous chemicals that we (with a bit of parochial pride) believe is one of the best anywhere.


Councilwoman, City of San Jose

San Jose