NPE ’09: US plastics firms troubled by Congress actions

22 June 2009 23:48  [Source: ICIS news]

CHICAGO (ICIS news)--The US plastics industry is deeply troubled by pending federal legislation on climate control, health care and union voting and fears those initiatives will destroy jobs and export capacity, members of Congress said on Monday.

Representative John Shimkus (Republican-Illinois), part of a four-member congressional delegation that met with plastics industry officials at a major trade conference, said that business leaders worry that the massive climate change legislation now pending in Congress “will cause great harm to this industry because it is an energy-intensive industry”.

Representative Debbie Halvorson (Democrat-Illinois) said her constituents among plastics manufacturers and farmers are concerned that the climate change bill’s cap-and-trade provision does not give enough emissions allowances to the energy-intensive manufacturing and agriculture sectors in the US midsection.

“We have to make sure that this cap-and-trade climate legislation is not just on the US, that we make sure that it is a global campaign,” she said.

Halvorson also said that farmers and manufacturers throughout the US midwest worry that the climate bill will benefit east coast and west coast utilities and industries while the midwest pays for the legislative and tax costs.

Representative Donald Manzullo (Republican-Illinois) said that “the biggest problem facing plastics and manufacturing in general is that most people in Congress don’t have a clue about manufacturing”.

“Out of the 435 congressional districts in the nation, only about 50 of them have any concentration of manufacturing that would be noticed,” Manzullo said, “so it is hard to inform them of what the impact of this legislation can be.”

“Manufacturers are fed up with the presumption of Congress, the idea that they have all the answers,” Manzullo said, citing actions by the federal legislature to try to define “green” manufacturing.

“It is the manufacturing sector that for decades has led the nation in green technology,” he said, “not some pin-striped suits in Congress.”

“Congress invents nothing but trouble,” Manzullo said.  “Congress chases jobs out of this country to Mexico and China.”

“And this cap-and-trade bill is going to be the biggest job destroyer of them all,” he said.

In addition to the climate change bill, Congress is considering a major health care mandate that Shimkus said could put “destructive” taxes on industry, and a union organising measure that would do away with secret ballot elections for union representation at company sites.

Manzullo, Shimkus and Halvorson were joined by Peter Roskam (Republican-Illinois) at a press conference at the 2009 National Plastics Exhibition (NPE).  The conference is sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry and runs through Friday this week.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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