US chem leader warns against government disclosure of technology

06 March 2012 15:19  [Source: ICIS news]

SOCMA president and CEO Lawrence SloanBALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS)--A US chemicals industry leader on Tuesday warned that plans by federal environmental officials to alter protections for confidential business information (CBI) could undermine the countrys global leadership in technology.

Lawrence Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), told the opening session of the annual GlobalChem conference that specialty chemical manufacturers he represents are “highly concerned about efforts by [the] EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to potentially change existing CBI protections”.

Sloan said that SOCMA is particularly concerned about plans by EPA to require greater disclosure of chemicals by producers when they file pre-manufacturing notifications with the EPA before a product can be brought to market.

Earlier in the conference, another SOCMA official cautioned that new EPA requirements for pre-manufacturing disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids – many of which are produced by SOCMA member companies – could undermine innovations in this area and hinder development of newly abundant US shale gas supplies.

Sloan told 400 industry executives that, “If we, as a nation, want to continue to move towards greener chemicals and products, there will need to be proper incentives in place to safeguard innovation, not to mention the livelihood of the US chemicals industry”.

He said that without a proper balance between public access to proprietary information and protection of critical business data, the US would be unable to maintain its global technological lead and create “new market opportunities and the jobs that come with it”.

Sloan said that the regulatory challenge to CBI security “portends significant implications throughout the chain of commerce and within various sectors”. 

“It should not be taken lightly,” he said. 

“Many people talk about innovation and the need to protect our country’s ability to do more of it,” Sloan said, “but nowhere is it more critical than to specialty chemical manufacturers in the US.  

“Protection of trade secrets is, in some cases, the only difference between [the] success and failure of a business in our highly competitive sector,” he added.

He noted that 70% of global intellectual property is US-generated.

“But if we are to continue to be a global leader, we must stand for fair and practical laws and regulations both domestically and internationally,” he said.

“This will help ensure that we can continue to manufacture innovative products and capitalise on emerging export markets, balancing concerns of environmental health and safety with business sustainability,” Sloan concluded.

The GlobalChem conference, which is co-sponsored by SOCMA and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), runs until Wednesday.


By: Joe Kamalick
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