26 March 2003 16:59 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--Nova Chemical chief executive Jeff Lipton attacked environmentalists and the media here Wednesday and urged industry to take up a popular movie line and declare: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more."
In the keynote address today to the 18th annual World Petrochemical Conference sponsored by Chemical Market Associates Incorporated (CMAI), Lipton accused "professional environmentalists" and the media of feeding on unscientific fears of the chemicals industry in order to boost cash flows and make money.
Addressing an audience of more than 400 industry representatives, Lipton noted that a recent survey by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) indicates only 14% of the US public holds a positive view of the chemical industry. He contrasted that impression with his view of the industry's history for providing new products necessary for progress and a working environment safer than that in most homes.
Despite the facts, he charged, professional environmentalists aided by the media "keep the public stirred up." He said their motives are dominated by the need to generate cash flow, keep their professional environmental jobs and sell newspapers.
Lipton told his colleagues the industry "has been too rational for its own good."
He said: "I think it is absolutely essential for our industry to find a way to reduce the power of the professional environmentalists and the media to hurt us."
In addition, Lipton also cited the industry's tradition of treating its customers as if it were some kind of "big brother" that provides help with price increases and allows them to take advantage of lag times before implementation.
Repeating information provided by him to analysts last week, Lipton also said his Canadian-based company will no longer provide price protection in the form of delays and he encouraged other chemical producers to follow suit.
Citing plans by the ACC to implement a public relations campaign that would improve the industry's image in North America, Lipton said the industry rank and file must take their cue from the famous 1976 movie "Network" and adopt its catch-phrase as a new battle cry.
Repeating lines from that movie, Lipton said: "First you have to get mad." He continued: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
Lipton told the audience they should refuse to be embarrassed by their jobs. He urged them to begin visiting teachers, neighbours, associates and anyone who will listen to share with them the contributions of chemical production in modern life.
He said: "That's what the industry needs to do. Pound the table and begin to shout."
The CMAI conference continues through Thursday. In his introductory remarks, CMAI president Gary Adams said 600 participants had been registered prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq. CMAI did not yet have an official head count of actual arrivals but a representative said the conference had seen only a 10-12% cancellation rate by Wednesday morning.
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