Lobbying For Chemistry
SOCMA Launches First 100 Days Initiative as New U.S. Congress Takes Office
With more than 90 new members of Congress joining their elected colleagues to tackle key legislative issues in the coming year, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) kicked off its "First 100 Days" initiative January 20 to educate Congress and regulatory agencies about issues important to the specialty chemical industry.
Forty-seven percent of senators are just in their first six-year term. Many others are now only days into serving their second term, so this initiative is vitally important in ensuring these legislators know about the importance of specialty chemical manufacturing.
Advocating for Policies to Support Competitiveness
Specifically, we plan to visit new members of Congress on Capitol Hill, as well as with new heads of various regulatory agencies, to introduce the organization and advocate for policies to help specialty manufacturers be more competitive and expand their markets. The government can do things that can severely harm our industry's competitiveness, such as overregulation and outdated tax systems, but it can also help us better compete by strengthening policies that make growth and innovation a top priority.
On the regulatory front, a number of agency leaders stepped down at the end of 2012, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson. Specialty chemical manufacturers are waiting to see who takes the helm of these organizations and how they will approach regulatory development and enforcement.
Specialty manufacturers are poised for further growth, but are held back by unanswered questions about the economy as well as undetermined costs of pending regulations.
Voicing Industry Concerns
Within the industry, there are concerns the Obama administration is sitting on numerous significant regulations, from environmental to health to economic, that it will unleash this year. For example, EPA's Chemical Manufacturing Area Sources Rule is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per facility in return for minimal environmental or health benefit. These expenses will be taken from budgets that would otherwise be directed towards creating the next new innovation.
EPA has also been unsuccessful in the past two years in its attempt to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the agency has proposed several regulations to address the concerns as a result.
At least one of those proposals, if enacted, would severely compromise the competiveness of chemical manufacturers by requiring them to publicly disclose the most proprietary of information about their chemistry - the ingredients that make them competitive and innovative.
Besides voicing these concerns in face-to-face meetings during the First 100 Days initiative and to help publicly highlight the growing number of regulations imposed on our industry, SOCMA launched a website in 2012 - www.ReiningInRegulations.com. This website identifies several case studies to educate agency officials about the impact these regulations can have on the specialty chemicals industry in general and on how our membership is disproportionately impacted by regulation, both as a chemical manufacturer and as a small business.
On the legislative front, SOCMA CONNECT's 6th Annual Washington Fly-In, set for April 9-10, is also included in the First 100 Days initiative. The Washington Fly-In is an opportunity for SOCMA members to visit Capitol Hill and talk face-to-face with members of Congress and their staff to ensure that elected officials consider the issues and challenges facing the specialty chemical industry when voting on legislation. With so many new members of Congress, SOCMA members are eager to start building relationships with their newly elected officials. SOCMA members often continue strengthening their Congressional relationships after the Washington Fly-In by inviting members of Congress to visit their companies and learn more about how the specialty chemical industry works and its value to the states and districts these lawmakers represent.
A Need for Legislative Action
One of the key issues SOCMA will advocate for during the 100 days initiative and Washington Fly-In is passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. For more than 30 years, Congress has supported American manufacturers by suspending duties on products not manufactured in the U.S. These savings have allowed the U.S. specialty chemical industry, as well as a number of other U.S. manufacturing industries, to keep their products at globally competitive prices and pass the duty suspension savings along to their customers. It also allows these manufacturers to keep jobs in the U.S. All duty suspensions expired at the end of 2012, so the need for legislative action is urgent, as American manufacturers are already dealing with a tax hike from increased duties.
In addition to the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, SOCMA's Government Relations team will speak to Congressional offices about reforming our regulatory process, making the R&D tax credit permanent, protecting intellectual property and confidential business information , seeking new free trade agreements, reauthorizing chemical security standards and revising chemical risk management rules.
To amplify the Government Relations effort in Washington, D.C., SOCMA will also assist its members in scheduling site visits at their facilities with members of Congress and encourage them to write letters to elected officials regarding the sector's top priorities, among other activities.