Feedstock, Olefins and Aromatics
INSIDE VIEW '13: Steps needed to keep US growth rising - ACC
ICIS News : 28-Dec-12 15:00
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 2013.
2012 was a great year for the business of chemistry. Our industry experienced new growth, thanks to the blessing of domestic shale gas, and even as the rest of the economy continued to lag. Announced investments in domestic chemical manufacturing capacity, valued at over $40bn (€30.4bn), are good news for American Chemistry Council (ACC) member companies and for the nation. These projects create jobs for thousands of men and women and prosperity for communities across the country.
While the prospects for 2013 and beyond are bright, steps can and should be taken to ensure that America will remain a great place in which to invest, innovate and operate. ACC’s priority over the next year will be advancing policies and creating a regulatory environment that will support the ability of our member companies to do just that.
Our top priority remains passage of bipartisan legislation to modernise the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Past proposals have positioned health and safety on one side, and innovation and economic growth on the other, as if they were mutually exclusive. They are not. That’s why we are greatly encouraged by recent efforts in the Senate to develop a new proposal that will promote public confidence in the safety of chemicals while also enabling US industries to innovate and compete in the global economy.
At a time when the chemical industry is driving a national manufacturing renaissance enabled by domestic shale gas, a bipartisan solution to modernise TSCA is more important than ever, not only for our industry, but also for the countless others that rely on chemical products. We hope that 2013 will be the year we can make bipartisan reform a reality, and we stand ready to work hard to help get it done.
Even as we promote comprehensive TSCA reform, we continue to seek changes to the current chemical regulatory system and the scientific programs that form its foundation – changes that will make these programs more effective, more transparent and more credible. In 2012, we intensified our efforts to improve government risk assessment programs, including the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, and we were pleased that both Congress and the Agency have joined this effort.
While progress has been made, there is much more to do. In 2013, we will continue to push for the adoption of a clear, systematic approach to collecting and weighing the strengths of scientific evidence, as well as the establishment of an “honest broker” to oversee implementation of suggested changes from peer reviews and public comments. With these and other changes, the Congress and the public can have greater confidence in the quality and reliability of government science, an area where nothing less than excellence should be accepted.
ACC’s energy advocacy and awareness campaign “From Chemistry to Energy” kicked into full gear in 2012, promoting an all-of-the-above national energy strategy that maximises responsible natural gas production, improves energy efficiency and expands energy recovery programs.
Through aggressive outreach and advocacy in Washington and in states across the country, we’ve raised awareness of the critical role that each of these energy sources must play in America’s energy portfolio, while advocating for sound policies and regulations to advance each of them.
In particular, the campaign has successfully created a greater appreciation for the link between domestic natural gas production, the chemical industry and the reinvigoration of America’s manufacturing sector.
Policymakers and regulators now clearly understand the critical importance of maximising our nation’s natural gas assets. Just as energy remains on the top of the national agenda as we move into the new Congress, it will remain at the top ACC’s priorities in 2013 as well.
Boosting US exports continues to be one of the most promising ways to strengthen US competitiveness, grow the economy and drive further expansion of the US chemical industry. In early 2013, ACC will release a report detailing recommendations to create sustainable export growth for the business of chemistry.
In particular, ACC strongly supports a comprehensive trade agreement between the US and the EU. Tariff liberalisation through a US-EU Free Trade Agreement would mean considerable savings for the chemical industry.
Roughly 40% of US-EU chemical trade is intra-company trade, and the elimination of industrial tariffs could save chemical manufacturers more than $600m per year. We’re encouraged by the administration’s recent statements of support for a new trade agreement with EU and we look forward to working with them to advance this important initiative.
As ACC works to make progress in these three critical areas, we will continue to advance our members’ interests in Washington as they relate to tax reform, security, rail and environmental regulation, while at the same time continuing to work aggressively in state capitals. We believe 2013 will be a year of tremendous opportunity for our industry, and we look forward to working closely with our members, the Congress and state government leaders across the country to transform those opportunities into successes for the business of chemistry.
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