Democrats create challenges for chems - group

05 November 2008 17:27  [Source: ICIS news]

US trade groups react to Barack Obama presidency

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--A Democrat-controlled Congress and presidency will create "historic challenges" to the chemical industry, although US businesses are prepared to work with the new president and congressmen, a US trade group said on Wednesday.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain for the presidency.

In addition, the Democrats were expected to add 20 seats in the House of Representatives, extending their majority, Reuters reported. The party was expected to gain at least five seats in the Senate to reach 56, still short of a filibuster-proof majority of 60.

The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA) said that the recent sweep by the Democratic party will not only give it significant authority, but also enormous responsibilities.

"These results will create historic challenges for our industry' priorities, but they will also offer some opportunities as well," according to a statement by Bill Allmond, SOCMA's director of government relations.

As such, the trade group will introduce itself and its agenda to the 111th Congress as part of its "First 100 Days" programme, SOCMA said. The programme will also extend SOCMA's "willingness to work with them on a bipartisan basis where possible to achieve industry priorities".

Priorities for SOCMA include free-trade agreements and permanent site-security legislation that does not include mandates for inherently safer technology, the group said. SOCMA also wishes to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act while avoiding regulations that resemble Europe's Reach (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals).

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said the nation's crude oil and natural gas industry looks forward to creating an energy policy with the new administration.

In particular, such a policy should encourage the development of all of the US energy sources, including oil and natural gas, the group said.

"The American people have spoken loud and clear that they want politicians to put aside partisan bickering and get to work on meaningful energy policy that contributes to economic stability," according to a statement by Jack Gerard, API CEO. "The oil and natural gas industry stands ready to help put America’s vast energy resources to good use, strengthening our nation’s economy and energy security and providing good jobs for Americans across the country.”

Neither the American Chemistry Council (ACC) nor the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) had released statements as of 10:00 hours Houston time (16:00 GMT).

One group that greeted Obama's victory with outright enthusiasm was the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a US ethanol trade group.  The RFA said it looked forward to working with Obama in promoting ethanol.

“Throughout this campaign, President-elect Obama has reiterated that American farmers and ethanol producers are a critical component of our national strategy to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil," the group said in a statement. ":In addition, President-elect Obama has steadfastly held that ethanol, biodiesel and other forms of renewable energy need to be the building blocks of a new, green economy to generate much-needed economic activity, jobs and opportunities that harness the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that has made our country great."

The US Chamber of Commerce said it would work with Obama and the new Congress to quickly restore the nation's economic growth and address the many serious issues confronting the US.

"Restoring the nation's economic health must be our top priority," according to a statement by Thomas Donohue, chamber president. "Any successful and sustainable recovery will involve the business sector, which creates the jobs, the growth and the revenues on which all Americans and our government depend.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) outlined the economic challenges facing Obama's administration.

"Our nation is in a financial crisis that is discouraging investment and consumption. Manufacturers are severely impacted by the credit squeeze," according to a statement by John Engler, the group's president.

"Companies with solid balance sheets, good credit histories and order backlogs cannot obtain routine financing. There is no question that we face daunting challenges ahead," Engler said.

"President-elect Obama understands the importance of manufacturing and what's good for jobs and the economy overall," Engler said. "He has opposed unfair trade policies that have disadvantaged US manufacturers and expressed support for key issues that are important for jobs creation, including trade, energy, and workforce training."

For more on ethanol, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
Bookmark Simon Robinson's Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels
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By: Al Greenwood
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