US ACC starts initiative to fight unprecedented regulatory surge

Al Greenwood

20-Sep-2023

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has started an initiative in response to an unprecedented surge in US rules and regulations that, if unchecked, could make it increasingly difficult to make materials in the country, the trade group said on Wednesday.

“The broad swath of regulations targeting our industry reveals a disturbing lack of vision and appreciation of chemistry’s role in creating the solutions that the country needs,” said Chris Jahn, president of the ACC. “This is an unprecedented attack on our industry.”

The ACC has identified 13 proposed regulations that target the chemical industry and that would cost the US economy nearly $7bn/year, based on estimates from the federal government.

Many chemical companies have told the ACC that their regulatory burden is already too high, and they expect it to grow, Jahn said.

These regulations often contradict the very policy goals of the signature legislative achievements of the administration of President Joe Biden, such as the following:

  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • The Chips and Science Act programme .
  • The renewable energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The regulations will make it harder to make the materials needed to build highways, expand the electrical grid, produce semiconductor chips and manufacture wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs). According to Jahn:

  • 500 chemistries are needed to manufacture a computer chip.
  • On average, 10 tonnes of polymers go into the wind turbine.
  • On average, 50% of the volume and 10% of the weight of an EV is plastic.
  • Solar panels, green hydrogen, direct-air capture and carbon capture rely on chemicals.

“At the heart of the issue is a massive surge in new, unduly restrictive regulations and a lack of coordination within the Biden administration that’s hindering the chemical industry’s ability to innovate, grow and create products,” Jahn said.

To address the regulations, the ACC has started an initiative called “Chemistry Creates, America Competes”, and it wants the government to do the following:

  • The Office of Management and Budget needs to review the effects that significant rulemaking and administrative policies could have on supply chains, trade, national security, energy, climate, healthcare, infrastructure and innovation.
  • The administration should assign a senior official with economic expertise who can assess the effects that proposed regulations would have on national goals such as maintaining and protecting supply chains.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should use a science-based process to develop rules and regulations that protect health and the environment without suppressing innovation, weakening supply chains and encouraging production to move overseas.
  • Congress should exercise oversight over rules and regulations of the chemical sector. It should examine how EPA regulations on some chemicals could cut off access to products and technologies that are needed by US producers of energy, vehicles, infrastructure, healthcare and semiconductors.
  • Congress should consider legislation to improve the regulatory process, to streamline the permitting process and to replace overly conservative regulations with those that are more flexible and science-based.

Jahn stressed that the ACC is opposed to flawed regulations and not to regulations in general. “We’re confident by working together as partners, many of these can be rightsized in ways that keep strong regulations in place and Americans safe without regulating to zero, without banning chemistries outright and regulating them at trace levels, which are de facto bans.

“We support responsible regulations, as long as it’s driven by science, promotes innovation and supports supply-chain resiliency,” he said.

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