US petchems welcome Obama rules directive, others unsure

18 January 2011 22:41  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US petrochemical and refining officials on Tuesday welcomed President Barack Obama’s promise to review and reform federal regulations that impede job growth, but other manufacturers and business interests were sceptical.

In an opinion article he wrote for Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Obama said that federal regulations sometimes get out of balance with the nation’s free market functions, “placing unreasonable burdens on business - burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs”.

Obama said he was issuing an executive order requiring federal agencies to “ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth”.

He also ordered “a government-wide review of rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive”. 

In addition, the president said he was directing federal agencies to do more to account for and reduce burdensome regulations for small businesses.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said that the president’s call for regulatory review and reform was “welcome news for every American”.

NPRA president Charles Drevna said that “at a time when unemployment tops 9% and our nation’s vital manufacturing base is shrinking, President Obama is acting in the nation’s best interests”.

Drevna said his trade group was ready to work with the White House, regulatory agencies and Congress in an effort to stimulate employment “through the elimination of unnecessary regulations”.

But the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) was sceptical of the president’s promise.

“It has been a long time coming for small business owners to hear this from this administration,” said NFIB president Dan Danner.

“We will be watching closely to see if today’s directive leads to real regulatory reform,” he added.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) also suggested that the president was a latecomer to the anti-regulation cause.

NAM senior vice president Aric Newhouse said the group welcomed Obama’s call for a government-wide review of regulations and rules, noting that “Manufacturers have been saying for some time that overregulation is harming job creation and stifling economic growth.”

Newhouse said the president could demonstrate his resolve “by eliminating regulations already in the pipeline that are costing jobs”, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) developing and controversial plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative think tank, was sharply critical of the president’s announcement and his opinion article, saying that Obama “utterly glossed over the EPA CO2 rules ... and the torrent of rules yet to come from the health care and financial reform bills”.

CEI vice president Wayne Crews said that Obama’s executive order to establish balance between regulation and economic growth simply duplicates a similar directive issued by President Bill Clinton in September 1993.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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