US NACD: too many agencies, too much regulation

04 December 2008 11:13  [Source: ICIS news]

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (ICIS news)--The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) wants to keep the contradictory regulations produced by the array of federal agencies that oversee the safety and security of the chemical industry from getting worse, it said late on Wednesday.

"We can expect more regulations that could be difficult for the industry to swallow," said James Boldt, chair of NACD's government affairs committee, in a press briefing held at the NACD's 37th annual meeting.

Various NACD members expressed the need for a consensus in the making of standards.

"We have to explain to Congress that redundancies in regulations are not productive," said Mathew Brainerd, president of Brainerd Chemical Co, and an officer with NACD.

Brainerd said the new Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) overlap with Department of Transportation regulations as well as some from the US Coast Guard.

"CFATS is moving so rapidly that all agencies do not know all its aspects," said Brainerd.

Bruce Schechinger, vice-chairman of NACD, and president of BHS Marketing, said that the "Environmental Protection Agency tells us to keep the gate open, the DHS orders it closed".

As much as it is needed, a consensus standard would be difficult to create, said Brainerd.

"The agencies have their own agendas, [but often] they don't seem to even know their own agendas."

Often regulators make decisions without ever seeing a facility, added Schechinger.

The first step toward rectifying the situation would be to educate Congress to prevent over-regulation, said Boldt. "Now is the time we feel we need to do more."

But Congress may not want to be educated. "Congress reacts to its constituents, but most people don't know anything about the chemical industry [and react with fear to it]," states Brainerd.

Brainerd's solution, while simple, tends to be difficult as well: "If we think before we regulate, we will have more practical rules."

The NACD's annual meeting continues on 5 December.

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By: Ivan Lerner
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