A significant rise in regulatory activity may adversely impact the US economy, particularly the domestic production of chemicals, cautions the American Chemistry Council. At risk are chemicals needed to support renewable energy initiatives, build infrastructure and manufacture semiconductors.
SmartBrief sat down with ACC’s Vice President of Federal Affairs Ryan Jackson to discuss the results of a survey ACC conducted of its members regarding the regulatory environment.
SmartBrief: Why did ACC conduct this survey?
Ryan Jackson: Chemical manufacturing is the most heavily regulated subsector of manufacturing with the total number of regulations that apply to the industry doubling in the past 20 years. As the number of regulations has risen, quality control has gone down. In fact, 30% fewer regulations are being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) compared to the last Democratic administration.
We wanted to get a better sense of how this massive wave of new regulations is affecting chemical manufacturers and their ability to meet the needs of the nation, especially when it comes to supporting national priorities, especially ones identified by this administration. The survey looks at specific regulatory issues and their impact on hiring and investments in production and research and development.
SB: What are some of the biggest takeaways?
RJ: Over the past year, two-thirds of the companies surveyed said their operations have been negatively impacted by delayed government decisions about proposed regulatory activities or late approvals of permitting, licensure, or products. And just as troubling, 12% of chemical producers said they decided against expanding operations in the United States due to the current regulatory climate.
SB: In any industry, regulations can raise costs. Is this the case here?
RJ: The Administration’s current proposals could impose nearly $7 billion in additional annual costs on our economy due to a nearly seven-fold increase in “economically significant rules” affecting the chemical industry, with an annual economic impact of more than $100 million.
SB: Are there other concerns beyond the cost of these regulations?
RJ: The impact of this regulatory overload goes well beyond the additional costs to the chemical industry. The rise in regulation and a lack of coordination across the Biden administration is hampering the industry’s ability to create the products necessary to produce clean energy, manufacture semiconductors and rebuild America’s infrastructure. It is also undermining the success of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the CHIPS and Science Act.
SB: What should policymakers do to fix this problem?
RJ: This isn’t about resisting oversight but advocating for well-informed, growth-oriented policies. Effective policymaking understands the intricate relationships across industries and the essential role that chemicals play in manufacturing a variety of goods, reducing unintended consequences and providing clarity for all involved.
To adopt smarter regulations, policymakers at federal agencies at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget must work with chemical industry experts more closely to fully understand the critical role of the chemicals in the overall US economy and not inadvertently impede innovation in domestic manufacturing.
The White House should assign an official who answers to the President and with the economic expertise to objectively assess the impact of these proposed regulations on the supply chain and the ability to achieve national goals. The chemical industry must also work with Congress to enable our representatives to fulfill their oversight duties to make sure regulations are being developed properly, deliver benefits and not create new problems by cutting off access to vital products and technologies.
Ryan Jackson, vice president of federal affairs, American Chemistry Council
At ACC, Jackson is responsible for engaging with the White House, Congress and federal agencies to create sensible policies and regulations that put science first, promote innovation and support supply chain resiliency. Previously, he led political affairs for the National Mining Association. Jackson began his career in Oklahoma as an assistant district attorney. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and his law degree from Oklahoma City University.