One vital component of this campaign was the D.C. Fly-In on March 21, during which ACMA members visited 19 House and Senate offices. The members shared information with congressional representatives about rising costs, lost job opportunities, elevated public anxieties, permitting obstacles and threats of potential litigation stemming from the styrene listing.
The following day, Teri Schenk, environmental health and safety manager at ACMA member-company Global Composites, joined representatives from other industries for a House Energy and Commerce Committee roundtable chaired by Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS-4) and attended by six other House members. She spoke eloquently about the negative impacts IRIS and the RoC styrene listing has had on Global Composites, a small company in Elkhart, Ind., employing 266 people.
According to Schenk, “Federal scientific statements are stopping businesses in the composites industry from hiring, are putting current jobs at risk and are preventing young people from being trained for jobs in the industry.” She also argued that “as a small company, we can’t survive regulations and health warnings that are based on outdated science, on shortcuts or on undisclosed and non-transparent policy decision biased in favor of an exceedingly high-level of precaution.”
Schenk added that her company’s competitors in Mexico, China, Canada, South America and Japan don’t face these government barriers and that countries in the European Union welcome composites manufacturing “because they recently looked carefully at the styrene data and determined that it’s not a carcinogen.”
“Congress, to date, has done little to supervise IRIS and RoC,” notes Schweitzer. “These programs are also virtually untouchable by the courts. They haven’t even been subjected to effective oversight by senior officials in their respective agencies. Yet their actions, as Schenk and others told members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, have a major and often highly damaging impact.”
Schweitzer describes the risk assessment reforms ACMA is advocating as “modest” but predicts their enactment would dramatically improve the scientific quality of the IRIS and RoC programs. He also believes the association’s current proposals could provide a framework for upgrading the quality of science in other federal programs and agencies.