US chems worry that key issues will falter

05 September 2008 19:55  [Source: ICIS news]

US chems worry that key issues will end with Bush administrationWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US chemical sector officials launched a campaign on Friday to ensure that regulatory and legislative issues critical to the industry will be completed in what remains of the Bush administration or made known to its successor.


The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA) said it has begun a series of meetings with regulatory officials of the outgoing Bush administration and with staff in the election campaigns of Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Democratic candidate Barak Obama.


“We want to do what we can to help wrap up pending matters at regulatory agencies or on Capitol Hill before the Bush administration leaves office,” said association president Joe Acker.


“Of course not everything we want can be concluded in the few months remaining to the Bush White House, so we’re also meeting with McCain’s people and with the Obama campaign folks so that they’ll at least be aware of things that are of interest to our industry,” he said.


For example, Acker said SOCMA officials are to meet with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff to gauge and urge progress on the North American chemical assessment and management programme (ChAMP) that was agreed to by the US, Canada and Mexico in August 2007.


ChAMP is seen by SOCMA and other chemical industry trade groups as a more palatable and workable alternative to the EU’s wide-ranging plan for the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach), now being put in force. ChAMP is a risk-based approach to chemicals control while Reach is based chiefly on the precautionary principle.


“We want to find out from EPA where development of that ChAMP programme is at,” Acker said. “Is it being pushed hard? Will it carry over to the next administration, or is it losing energy?”


US chemical industry officials worry that unless ChAMP is fully established and operational before a new president takes office in January 2009, it might be scrapped by the next administration.


Acker said the association’s representatives also will meet with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to see how well implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) is progressing. 


A new and more Democrat-dominated Congress may want to enact tougher antiterrorism security requirements for the some 7,000 US facilities that are seen as potentially high-risk terrorist targets. Chemical industry officials are anxious to see the current CFATS programme fully operational so that they can argue to Congress that it is adequate and need only be renewed rather than toughened next year.


Specialty and batch chemical producers represented by SOCMA and a broad array of other manufacturers also will press key members of Congress in the next few weeks to complete work on legislation to renew the federal research and development (R&D) tax credit.


That tax credit expired at the end of 2007, and SOCMA and others are anxious to see it renewed before the end of this Congress, warning that US technology advances will suffer without it.


Congress returns from its August recess next Monday but will be in session for only a few weeks before the legislators break again to resume re-election campaigning in advance of the nationwide US vote on 4 November.


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By: Joe Kamalick
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