InterviewRegulations may knock US petchems off of podium

23 February 2010 20:33  [Source: ICIS news]

By: Joseph Chang

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--The US oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries could be knocked off the podium in the global competition for growth, Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said on Tuesday.

Drevna warned the US would be committing “economic suicide” if the country followed through with proposed US climate-change legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) under the Clean Air Act, higher taxes on the oil and gas industry and a Reach-like chemical risk management programme as well as plant security measures incorporating inherently safer technology (IST).

“When you look at all these things holistically for the US … and see China and India competing over robust market share and are fighting it out to win gold and silver, we may be knocking ourselves off the podium for even the bronze,” Drevna said in an interview with ICIS.

“China and India are doing the exact opposite of what’s being proposed in this country. They’re talking a great game on climate change, but they sure aren’t doing anything. They’re waiting for us to jump off that cliff,” he added.

Drevna also said tax policies in China and India are industry-friendly and that he does not see either country adopting anything like the EU’s Reach legislation “anytime soon”. He also said he doubts China and India would dictate what processes their plants run as an IST component in the US would.

“If this was 30 years ago, and we were the only kid on the block, maybe some of these things wouldn’t be so debilitating. But things have changed,” Drevna said.

“We have to take a long, hard look at what these things do - not tomorrow, next month, but for the next few decades - what this is going to do to this country and our economic strength and development,” he added.

Drevna said the shift in public sentiment in the US away from an anti-business stance in terms of the oil, gas and petrochemical industries in the midst of a jobless recovery could be encouraging.

“If one reads the political tea leaves now, there is a paralysis of legislation. You have to be naive not to see what’s happened with the change in attitude of the American electorate,” Drevna said.

“Given this dynamic, many of these proposals have run into a brick wall, and thank goodness they have,” he added.

“We can’t keep looking to the oil, gas, refining and chemical industries to pay for everything. If we continue to do so, we won’t have those industries anymore,” Drevna said.

Drevna spoke to ICIS ahead of NPRA’s 2010 International Petrochemical Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The meeting will take place 28-30 March.

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By: Joseph Chang
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