NPRA ’10: Industry faces wave of US regulations

28 March 2010 19:34  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS news)--US petrochemicals producers are facing an unprecedented wave of environmental and safety regulations this year, ranging from curbs on greenhouse gas emissions to chemical security, a key industry association official said on Sunday.

“This is one of the most activist Congresses I’ve ever seen,” said National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) vice president of petrochemicals Jim Cooper.

Congress is “trying to do so much, so quickly - that’s usually not a good receipt for rational law-making,” Cooper said on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference.

However, Cooper said he saw no strong leadership regarding greenhouse gas legislation and regulatory proposals.

“There seems to be a multitude of ideas, and that’s a recipe for gridlock,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the industry still faces the threat of the imposition of inherently safer technology (IST) standards.

Chemical industry officials worry that an IST mandate would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) power to dictate what feedstocks, processes and products they use and produce.

Some groups saw the IST issue as an “ideal apparatus for product substitution” that could be costly to producers as they re-engineer their plants to meet the new requirements, Cooper said.

IST should be regarded as an engineering philosophy rather than a way to regulate an industry, Cooper said.

“But the last thing anybody needs is for the government to tell engineers how to do engineering,” he said.

The NPRA supports a five-year extension of current Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), to regulate chemical site security. Those standards are due to expire in October.

Washington leaders are also examining an overhaul of the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), under which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) screens thousands of chemicals and gauges their impact on public health and safety.

Cooper said the NPRA supports “rational modernisations of TSCA” but does not support a complete overhaul of the act.

Hosted by the NPRA, the International Petrochemical Conference runs from Sunday through Tuesday.

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By: Brian Ford
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