US chem industry faces crisis of trust from BP spill – trade group

08 June 2010 19:23  [Source: ICIS news]

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (ICIS news)--The US chemical industry must deal with a crisis of trust exacerbated by the BP oil spill in the US Gulf, the chairman of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) board of directors said on Tuesday.

“With the BP oil spill, the issue is no longer just about oil and goes beyond the environment, jobs and the economy. It is about trust,” said Brian Ferguson, executive chairman of US-based Eastman Chemical and chairman of the ACC.

Ferguson spoke at the ACC’s 2010 annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“A global high profile industry has lost the trust of key stakeholders, and I suspect that many industries have been tarnished in the process,” he said.

“American institutions face a crisis of trust, and the chemical industry and our products remain at the front, or near the front of the line,” the chairman added.

The US chemical industry would face tough challenges ahead on the regulatory front, said Ferguson.

“We face product attacks in Congress and at the state and local levels, and fear-mongering and junk science often outweigh meaningful risk analysis. Our progress on opening up the OCS (outer continental shelf) for drilling has been eroded and we face a regulatory barrage from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) reform,” he said.

However, the ACC chairman said the good news was that “this is the strongest, most capable ACC we have ever known.”

“We will lead the fight for TSCA modernisation done right, making CFATS (Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) permanent, and counter attack on the EPA’s GHG (greenhouse gas) proposals,” Ferguson said.

The foundation for ACC’s advocacy efforts was its Responsible Care environmental, health, safety and security initiative, the chairman emphasised.

“With Responsible Care, we make our bid for the trust of employees, communities, officials and the public even in the face of eroding public confidence in business,” said Ferguson.

“The Responsible Care ethic gives us our most important weapon – our fundamental credibility,” he added.

The challenging regulatory environment demands that chemical companies work together to communicate the message that its products are a critical component in achieving sustainability, he said.

“This is the time now when we must stick together to fight for our rightful place in life of the nation. A green, sustainable future can only be achieved with a strong chemical industry,” he said.

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Joseph Chang
+1 713 525 2653

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