Obama courts business, but hints firm stance on climate rules

07 February 2011 19:06  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--President Barack Obama on Monday promised US business leaders new policies to improve infrastructure and cut burdensome regulations, but he indicated he would still oppose efforts to roll back federal greenhouse gas regulations.

In a speech at the US Chamber of Commerce, the president returned to his “win the future” theme first aired in his state of the union address last month and promised to work with the business community to create a better environment for job creation and economic growth.

For its part, he said his administration “will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate”.

“We will upgrade our transportation and communications networks so you can move goods and information more quickly and cheaply,” he said. “We will invest in education so that you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world.”

“And we’ll knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system,” he added.

He said he would seek a larger and permanent tax credit for companies’ domestic spending on research and development (R&D).

It is the responsibility of government, Obama said, to break down “barriers that stand in the way of your success”, including reform of “a burdensome corporate tax code with one of the highest rates in the world”.

“The last barriers we’re trying to remove are outdated and unnecessary regulations,” he said, referring to his earlier announced policy to review and reform a wide range of federal rules.

“If there are rules on the books that are needlessly shifting job creation and economic growth, we will fix them,” the president said.

The US energy and power sectors along with chemical makers and other manufacturers contend that the Obama administration’s environmental regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industry are the kind of rules that impede business and would drive production and related jobs offshore.

But Obama indicated that there are areas of federal regulation that his administration would defend against revision.

“Even as we work to eliminate burdensome regulations, America’s businesses have a responsibility to recognise that there are some safeguards and standards that are necessary to protect the American people from harm or exploitation,” he said.

In particular, he indicated that regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be insulated from extensive reform. 

“Few of us would want to live in a society without the rules that keep our air and water clean,” Obama said, adding: “The perils of too much regulation are matched by the dangers of too little.”

The US House of Representatives was considering legislation this week that would roll back the EPA’s greenhouse gases regulations.

Last year the White House indicated that Obama would veto such legislation if it reached his desk.

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