US chemical firms worried about outcome of looming US election

26 September 2012 00:14  [Source: ICIS news]

CAMBRIDGE, Maryland (ICIS)--US chemicals producers are worried about the outcome of the looming US national elections, a top industry leader said on Tuesday, fearing another four-year flood of regulatory burdens.

Larry Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), said that while the outcome of the 6 November elections are too close to call, he and other industry officials are concerned about what sort of regulatory environment will prevail if President Barack Obama wins a second four-year term in the White House.

Obama, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

“We are concerned,” Sloan said, “and we wonder what a second-term under Obama will be like – will it be more of regulation upon regulation?”

Sloan and a wide variety of other officials and trade groups in the chemicals sector, the broader US manufacturing and energy industries and business in general have long complained about what they see as rulemaking overkill during the past four years of the Obama administration.

Sloan said that increasing regulatory demands imposed by Washington are particularly burdensome for the small specialty chemical producers and batch manufacturers that make up most of SOCMA’s membership.

“Regulations cost smaller firms like our members about $7,740 [€5,960] per employee per year, and the compliance costs for small firms typically are 40% more than for larger firms,” he said.

Larger manufacturers often have sizable in-house legal teams, health and safety audit departments and other staff resources, he noted. Smaller companies usually must hire outside contractors and law firms to comply with various regulations at costs that far exceed those of in-house staff.

“When he was inaugurated, Obama talked about simplifying regulations and getting rid of dumb regulations, but we haven’t been seeing that,” Sloan said. “Instead, it’s been more regulations and more regulations.”

Sloan was particularly critical of what he termed “regulatory overreach by the EPA”, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and controversial rules issued by that agency since 2009.

Sloan said that if Romney should win the White House, “we likely would see more regulatory common sense”.

He emphasised that he and other industry leaders would be prepared and willing to work with whoever is in the White House or in control of Congress after the elections.

But, he added, “We’re very wary, very nervous about a second Obama term.”

Sloan was speaking on the sidelines of the SOCMA Leadership Conference, a newly revived bi-annual event that was last held in 2008.  About 70 industry executives are expected to attend the two day programme that begins on Wednesday.

($1 = €0.77)

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

By: Joe Kamalick
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