What legislation or laws are you keeping your eye on?
There are three that I’m watching carefully:
1) The highway bill: House Transportation Committee Chairman Oberstar is promoting an approach that would require states to have a long term view of bridge and highway maintenance. Currently, they just look at installation costs and not how long it will last or how much it will cost to maintain. In the new bill, they would be responsible for long term performance, which will push the use of more composites. I’m optimistic that it will pass next year.
2) TSCA reform bill: Committees in both the House and Senate are looking at the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Many of the reforms under considerations are not warranted in regards to the actual current risk. These approaches would make it burdensome on smaller companies who use chemicals. There’d be more paperwork and more tests that would have to be done by manufacturers and suppliers. We’re working with the American Chemistry Council, which is hosting a coalition of trade groups, to make sure that Congress takes a feasible and effective approach.
3) OSHA reform: Congress is interested in reforming the process that OSHA uses to set and enforce safety standards. It is a known fact that OSHA has trouble keeping up with changes in workplaces. There are new chemicals, new manufacturing processes and therefore new hazards. But OSHA rulemaking procedures established by Congress make it difficult for them to issue new regulations. We’re in favor of modernizing the approach to workplace safety and chemicals; there just needs to be a balance between what is necessary and what is practical.
What is your focus for 2010 and beyond?
We hope to prevail on styrene assessment because it’s important. But because it is so important it is also taking up a lot of time. If we could put the styrene assessment behind us, we could then focus on areas with long-term market growth potential.
Do you see an end to the current styrene debate?
I think we’ll be in this fight for at least the next three years. We know it’s already short listed in the EPA as well as by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Even if we can get NTP headed in the right direction in regards to styrene, the EPA will still put us through the same process. I’d like the issue to be put to rest, but I think it will go on for a few more years. In response to that, ACMA’s board put together the Composite Advocacy Program (CAP) because they realized that this battle is not short term. It’s not going to go away any time soon and we need funds to fight it.