US petchems work to stall climate bills until 2010 elections

30 September 2009 17:13  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The energy industry hopes to defeat cap-and-trade and CO2 legislation by stalling the bills until after the 2010 US mid-term elections, a trade organisation official said on Wednesday.

“I am holding on for dear life for those elections,” National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) executive vice president Greg Scott said at a methanol forum in Houston.

“The clock is our friend,” he added. “If polling numbers hold, Democrats will lose seats in both the House and the Senate.”

The cap-and-trade bill is likely to pass Senate committees, but should die on the Senate floor where 44 Senators have already vowed not to pass such a bill in 2009, Scott said.

“If you can’t get to 60 [votes], you can’t do anything,” Scott said.

While the Democrats have 60 votes currently, NPRA also hopes to sway about 10-15 moderate Democrats, largely from the US midwest, with an interest in preserving business, preserving jobs and preserving the traditional energy basis of the US economy, he said.

The NPRA acknowledged it might not be able to ultimately win their votes, but hoped to use those concerns to slow down legislation until November 2010.

“Hopefully the electorate will send a message to [Nancy] Pelosi and [Harry] Reid that their way of governing is not acceptable,” Scott said. “If not, we’re in a lot of trouble, and so is the country.”

Scott predicted that CO2 regulation efforts would be postponed until after the 2010 mid-term elections, while the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) were unlikely to be taken up before 2010 as well, in large part due to stall tactics.

Scott said the NPRA also was trying to put up every roadblock it could to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG) regulation, adding that the NPRA was confident it could delay such regulations for at least 5-10 years.

In the near term, key remaining 2009 issues are likely to be proposed low carbon fuel standards and industry taxes, he said.

Those taxes include $80bn (€55bn) on the petrochemical and refining industries from President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget.

“Right or wrong, they still regard the refining and petrochemical industries as deep pockets with lots of money to give, and they fully intend for us to give,” Scott said.

Scott also criticised the budget’s proposed repeal of the last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting system for all industries, which would create substantial tax liabilities for all businesses, he said.

The 7th Annual Methanol Forum was hosted by consultancy Jim Jordan & Associates.

($1 = €0.69)

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By: Ben DuBose
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