27 December 2011 23:00 [Source: ICIS news]
By Cal Dooley
President and CEO
American Chemistry Council
Editor’s note: US chemical industry association leaders were given the opportunity to express their views on the challenges and opportunities for 2012.
In 2011 the American Chemistry Council (ACC) achieved notable victories on behalf of our members. Despite these successes, many issues stagnated due to difficult political and economic dynamics in Washington. We expect much of the same in 2012, but ACC will focus on building toward future success on the key issues facing our industry including chemical management, energy and chemical security.
Modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and increasing the effectiveness of ongoing chemical management programs remain ACC’s top priorities.
As part of this effort, in 2011, ACC educated members of Congress about the need to improve government processes to assess the risks of chemicals, particularly EPA’s flawed Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program. We were extremely pleased that in the Continuing Resolution, Congress called on EPA to implement recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to improve IRIS. In 2012 we must ensure that EPA incorporates these recommendations into the IRIS program and reflects them in individual IRIS assessments, such as those of formaldehyde and dioxin. Moving forward we will work with Congress to pursue government-wide reform of risk assessment processes so they meet the highest standards of scientific integrity, credibility and transparency.
While it was clear from early in 2011 that Congressional action on TSCA was highly unlikely this year, we were nonetheless disappointed that more progress was not made toward developing a workable legislative proposal to modernize TSCA. Throughout the year, ACC provided lawmakers with concrete suggestions for improvements to Senator (Frank) Lautenberg’s “Safe Chemicals Act.”
ACC also remained closely engaged with EPA to offer proposals that would make ongoing chemical management more effective, including our detailed tool to prioritize chemicals for safety assessments. Legislation will again be very unlikely in 2012, but we will continue to work with members of Congress, stakeholders and our value chain partners to lay the foundation for legislative success in the next Congress.
Energy and Environment
Energy was a top issue for ACC in 2011. We successfully raised awareness about the significance of new shale gas production for the domestic chemical industry and as a catalyst for a manufacturing renaissance. We played a major role in preventing the passage of the NAT GAS Act, legislation that seeks to create government subsidies to artificially increase demand for natural gas in the transportation sector. This legislation would distort natural gas markets and could increase costs for chemical manufactures.
Looking to the future, ACC plans to increase its advocacy for a serious national energy strategy. As a major energy consumer and the enabler of technologies that will lead to a stronger, more secure, and more sustainable energy future, a comprehensive approach to energy policy is critical to the future growth of the chemical industry here in the U.S and our nation’s economy.
This strategy must enable robust, responsible production of energy from all domestic sources, particularly exciting new discoveries of oil and natural gas from shale. It must increase energy efficiency in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. It must encourage greater adoption of readily-available, competitive renewable and alternative technologies such as the often-overlooked recovery of energy from plastics.
A true energy strategy must also include a more rational approach to the way environmental rules are developed and implemented. In 2011, the withdrawal of EPA’s proposed ozone standard and major changes to the proposed BoilerMACT rules were significant victories for our industry, but the parade of over-aggressive environmental rules is sure to continue in the year to come. In order to prevent government bureaucracy from undermining energy security and economic growth, ACC will work in 2012 to ensure individual rules are balanced, and to encourage long-term reform of the regulatory process.
Although Congress was unable to pass a permanent extension of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) this year, we secured a one-year extension and succeeded in building bipartisan support for the program. The House Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security Committees passed bipartisan bills, as did the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Senator Susan Collins. While the fate of even bipartisan legislation like CFATS next year is uncertain, ACC will work with the bill sponsors in 2012 to advance a long term extension of the program.
The contentious political environment, competing congressional priorities, and the upcoming elections are sure to make 2012 just as challenging as 2011. We will seize every opportunity to advance the interests of our members in the coming year, but we will also keep our eyes firmly fixed on the future. By continuing to provide constructive solutions that will allow our industry to innovate, compete and create jobs, we are building a foundation for the success of our advocacy and of the business of chemistry in the years to come.
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