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SOCMA tells key Senate committee REACH would hamper U.S. innovation

By Tim Wright

Published May 21, 2008
In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA) urged lawmakers to "thoughtfully consider whether it is necessary or wise to adopt a monolithic new regulatory regime for chemical regulation like the European Union's Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation."

Though the committee has not yet proposed legislation to mandate a new chemical policy similar to REACH, many in Washington expect committee Chairman Barbara Boxer to do just that, with the hearing laying the groundwork for such a move.

Underscoring SOCMA's concerns about a REACH-type regulatory scheme in the U.S., Jim DeLisi, president of Fanwood Chemical, Inc., a SOCMA member, testified that "an 'American REACH' would not only hamper innovation but would reverse the progress made over the course of many years by federal regulators and the chemical industry to appropriately manage risk." He stated that "existing EPA regulations and voluntary initiatives are sufficient, and far more appropriate than REACH, to control possible hazards and still preserve the sustainability of America's third largest manufacturing industry."

DeLisi concluded, "Whether REACH will improve human health or the environment will not be known for years, if ever, but its ability to tie up regulators and commerce is already clear. In short, REACH has outreached the EU's capabilities. Americans cannot afford to emulate this unproven, highly bureaucratic approach to chemical regulation, especially when we already possess a system that has proven its mettle and needs only revitalization."

Additionally, Joseph G. Acker, SOCMA president, sent a letter to chairman Boxer and Senator James Inhofe, Ranking Member, stating that "American chemistry has invested and continues to invest significant resources to assure that the products we sell meet rigorous regulatory standards and do not present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment." Acker stated that chemicals produced by SOCMA members go toward "defending our nation against terrorism, enabling American workers to perform their jobs safely, and transporting millions of travelers across our Nation." He also said that chemistry will be a necessary part of solutions minimizing global warming. "All these benefits are made possible by the appropriate balance contained in our existing system of chemical control regulation and the vast commitment of chemical industry resources to product stewardship," Acker concluded.

SOCMA is the leading trade association, serving the specialty-batch and custom chemical industry since 1921. SOCMA's nearly 300 members employ more than 100,000 workers across the country and produce 50,000 products valued at $60 billion annually.

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