There are many legislative and regulatory issues facing the specialty chemical industry. With recent movement in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, long-term extension of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) is the hottest industry issue.
Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards
July was a stellar month in Congress for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, the law governing our nation’s chemical safety and security. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4007 – The CFATS Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014 – in a voice vote on July 8, and the Senate passed the bill out of committee on July 30, which puts the bill on track for a vote by the full Senate. Both are huge steps forward in gaining long-term authorization of CFATS.
Introduced by Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA), the bill would authorize CFATS for three years, allowing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to continue working with chemical facilities on the program’s successful implementation. It would also give affected businesses the time to make appropriate logistical and financial decisions needed for successful compliance.
SOCMA worked closely with Congressional staff in the creation and movement of this bill, and is pleased to see this critical piece of legislation is moving forward in both Chambers of Congress.
SOCMA continues to provide stakeholder input about CFATS to the federal government via events like the recent Chemical Sector Security Summit, comment submissions to regulatory agencies and congressional testimony.
For more information on CFATS, contact Elizabeth O’Neal at (202) 721-4198.
Toxic Substances Control Act Reform
Despite dwindling prospects for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform in this Congress, SOCMA remains committed to seeing it through to the end. For that matter, SOCMA has provided a witness to testify before Congress four times—representing the small business stake in the TSCA reform effort and is prepared to continue providing our voice on this important issue. As chemicals continue to get blacklisted, new laws pop up overseas and patchwork state laws emerge, we believe it is important to keep the momentum going.
Solid groundwork has been laid in the Senate with the unprecedented bipartisan TSCA bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (S. 1009), introduced in the by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). This bill eventually picked up 25 co-sponsors nearly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats before it eventually stalled in the Environment & Public Works Committee chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
After many hearings and a variety of voices heard in the House, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) unveiled his draft Chemicals in Commerce Act, which shares many positive features to reform TSCA as the Senate bill.
While doubtful TSCA reform will happen this Congress, progress has undeniably been made. Regardless, SOCMA expects there to be sufficient interest in Congress in revisiting it next year when the 114th Congress convenes and is prepared to do our part.
Miscellaneous Tariff Bill
Time is running out on the expired Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). The MTB Coalition, which brings together many large and small users of the MTB process, continues to push for passage of the bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Negotiations continue among key Senators to deal with outstanding concerns regarding the MTB process and rules that classify these bills as earmarks. However, SOCMA has not have seen draft language after many months of negotiations, and there appears to be frustration among all stakeholders. SOCMA continues to work to educate Members of Congress on the importance of the MTB. SOCMA is concerned the process would need to start from the beginning due to the length of time since the duty suspensions were initially vetted.
In June, SOCMA participated in the National Association of Manufacturers MTB Coalition Lobby Day, where the group met with more than 40 offices, emphasizing the importance of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill to businesses of all sizes. The Coalition asked Congress to pass all current duty suspension bills and move to reform the MTB process in a way that meets the needs of House and Senate members going forward.
For more on trade issues, please contact Justine Freisleben at or (202) 721-4155.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to finalize its long-awaited revised Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule later this summer. The rule, which amends the DSW rule that was finalized in 2008, currently is being held by the Office of Management and Budget for review.
By altering how certain wastes would be regulated, the 2008 final rule would allow many SOCMA members to recycle materials they previously were not able to, thereby potentially saving individual members tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars while simultaneously increasing recycling and benefitting the environment. However, since the rule was deregulatory in nature, most states had to adopt the rule separately and only a relative handful of states have done so, thus contributing to regulatory uncertainty. SOCMA has been engaged on this issue since the 1990s, and has been one of the most active industry voices in the latest incarnations of the rule. Most recently, SOCMA met with OMB earlier this spring to advocate for retention of two of its highest priorities – the tolling exemption and the remanufacturing exclusion – as well as elimination of another major concern – mandatory legitimacy criteria.
For more information on the DSW rule, contact Dan Moss at (202) 721-4143.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also expected to propose reconsidered Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) and Boiler GACT (Generally Achievable Control Technology) for area sources rules later this summer. Rules were finalized in December 2012, but EPA announced in August 2013 that it was granting reconsideration requests for selected issues for both rules. Many SOCMA members are area sources for boiler emissions, but because the majority of these members use natural gas-fired boilers, they would not be drawn into the rule. (As finalized in 2012, the Boiler GACT rule exempts natural gas-fired boilers.) br />
For more information on the Boiler MACT, contact Dan Moss at (202) 721-4143.