US chemical, business leaders urge federal rules reform

22 September 2011 18:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US chemical and other business leaders on Thursday called on Congress and the Obama administration for a comprehensive cost-benefit review of federal regulations, but the White House indicated that such a bill would be vetoed.

The Business Roundtable issued a report, “Achieving Smarter Regulation”, arguing that the flood of federal regulations from multiple departments and agencies imposes annual costs of approximately $1,700bn (€1,241bn), impedes innovation and business expansion and chills job growth.

Andrew Liveris, chief executive of Dow Chemical and vice chairman of the Business Roundtable, said that the business group was urging regulatory reform in hopes that it would “bolster business growth, encourage investment and speed up hiring”.

“Unfortunately, the current US regulatory regime tends to be so complex and inconsistent that regulations often do the exact opposite,” Liveris said.

“We can turn that tide by ensuring pending and new rules are clear, consistent and wise for the long term,” he added. “The private sector is focused on job creation.  It’s time that every federal agency and department – including regulatory agencies – do the same."

The business group’s proposal says that “it’s time to end overly prescriptive and burdensome regulations”.

The reforms would require a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed and final major rules, and subject agencies’ analysis of likely regulatory costs to review by non-government, outside economic and business authorities.

The plan also would require that federal agencies with authority to issue permits for business operations, new development or expansion work revise their processes so they can be streamlined and authorisations issued faster.

The proposal also urges overall review of the “Administrative Procedure Act” (APA), the 1946 law that governs how federal departments and agencies may propose and establish regulations.  Except for amendments in 1966, the 65-year-old statute has not undergone a major rewrite.

Liveris said that the federal rulemaking process needs greater transparency and should be subject to greater judicial review.

The Business Roundtable proposal was welcomed by American Chemistry Council (ACC) president Cal Dooley, who noted that “As part of a highly regulated industry, America’s chemical manufacturers have witnessed first-hand the negative impact that excessive and poorly developed regulations can have on our ability to innovate and grow jobs”.

However, the business group’s bid for wide-scale regulatory reform was likely to encounter opposition from the White House.

In a statement concerning a more narrowly focused regulatory reform bill pending in Congress, the White House said that President Barack Obama would likely veto the measure.

The bill, HR-2401, the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impact on the Nation” or TRAIN Act, would require the White House to establish a committee to review the cumulative impact and costs of regulations that affect US energy development and manufacturing.

In a statement, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) charged that the bill would “require the preparation of costly, unnecessary and redundant reports” and would “slow or undermine important public health protections”.

“If the president is presented with HR-2401, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” the OMB said.  The House was expected to vote on the measure within a week, and it was expected to pass.

($1 = €0.73)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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