Issue Date: January 30, 2017 | Web Date: January 26, 2017
Trump sets U.S. on new path
During his first week in office, U.S. President Donald J. Trump issued a series of executive directives that will affect the chemistry enterprise in a variety of ways.
Trump issued a presidential memorandum formally withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a trade deal strongly supported by the chemical industry and many other U.S. businesses. The Jan. 23 action fulfills Trump’s campaign promise to abandon the Pacific Rim trade pact early in his Administration.
Chemical manufacturers backed TPP, which was negotiated by former president Barack Obama’s Administration, saying it had the potential to eliminate punitive tariffs and taxes and provide new market opportunities for U.S. chemical exports.
The Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), an association representing the specialty chemical industry, urged the Administration to pursue trade agreements in Asia and elsewhere.
The pharmaceutical industry, which had criticized the TPP agreement for failing to deliver sufficient market exclusivity for pioneering biological drugs, says it will support trade agreements that include strong intellectual property protections and enhance market access.
On the same day he issued the TPP directive, Trump met with leaders from some of the country’s largest manufacturers, including Dow Chemical CEO Andrew N. Liveris.
There, Trump outlined policy proposals that he believes will boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. These include cutting corporate taxes, slashing regulations, and imposing tariffs on companies that close factories in the U.S. and build plants overseas.
Last month Trump named Liveris the head of the American Manufacturing Council, a panel convened to suggest ways to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive. Last week Liveris said, “He’s not going to do anything to harm competitiveness; he’s actually going to make us all more competitive.”
Details of the Administration’s energy agenda were unveiled online just after Trump took the oath of office on Jan. 20.
In his “An America First Energy Plan,” the President called for eliminating the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as a rule to define which waterways are regulated under the Clean Water Act. He also called for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and reviving the domestic coal industry.
The Administration intends to “embrace the shale oil and gas revolution” and take advantage of domestic oil and natural gas reserves, “especially those on federal lands that the American people own,” according to the energy plan. The boom in recent years of U.S. natural gas, a key feedstock, has boosted U.S. chemical manufacturing.
A Jan. 20 White House memorandum ordered all federal agencies to delay implementation of final regulations published since late October 2016.
In response, EPA is putting the brakes on 30 regulations, including a revised rule on chemical facility safety that calls for independent, third-party audits of companies after accidents and consideration of safer manufacturing approaches. Another rule put on hold is biofuel blend requirements for renewable fuels in 2017.
The Administration also took other actions that alarmed many scientists (see page 15)
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