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From our founding as the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association on Oct. 28, 1921, under the direction of Charles H. Herty, Ph.D., until today, our members have played an integral part in shaping our focus and moving the organization forward. Our task is to advocate on behalf of our members and promote an industry that supports various markets-including the adhesives and sealants industry.
“SOCMA has been and remains the one and only voice for the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry in the U.S.,” said Dave Hurder, vice president of McGean and chairman of SOCMA’s Board of Governors. “Our membership base is comprised of mostly small enterprises that have limited resources to tackle regulatory compliance, stay abreast of developments here in D.C., and otherwise don’t have internal departments or budgets like bigger corporations do.”
Since the association’s inception, member companies have come to rely on SOCMA’s advocacy to create a favorable business climate in which they can grow, innovate and compete in world markets.
AdvocacyThrough dedication, know-how and a clear understanding of our membership’s needs, SOCMA’s seven-member Government Relations team ensures that the interests of the specialty, batch, and custom chemical industry are thoroughly represented on Capitol Hill and inside federal agencies. One of the association’s most recent wins was the approval of free trade agreements with the market-rich nations of South Korea, Panama and Colombia. These agreements will reduce or completely eliminate over a short amount of time hundreds of millions of dollars each year in tariffs imposed on American chemical exports. As a result of the agreements, chemical companies that currently do not conduct business with these three countries will now be encouraged to do so. Notably, many small- and medium-sized chemical manufacturers will benefit.
Dixie Chemical Co., which serves the adhesives and sealants industry (among other markets), says it has especially benefited from SOCMA’s help in keeping up with international trade issues, which the association has focused on since it was created. “Dixie probably exports 25-30% of our products,” said Mal Johnson, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Dixie. “Being able to keep up with regulations in the international communities and international trade markets has been very important to us.”
This year, SOCMA will work with Congress to help identify additional countries, particularly those in the developing world, for expanding free trade agreements. SOCMA will also work with industry and members of Congress to ensure passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. The legislation suspends duties imposed on imports, essentially providing a tax break for companies that import a product for which there is no domestic manufacturer and which then uses the chemical in their manufacturing process. Many SOCMA members rely on duty suspensions to effectively compete in the global marketplace.
While SOCMA’s advocacy efforts were founded in trade in 1921, they quickly advanced into other broad-based issues. Today, these efforts span everything from chemical risk management to site security, as well as a host of other issues facing the industry from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
SOCMA has also led efforts to reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which it helped the Department of Homeland Security stand up several years ago. The standards balance rigorous and thorough security evaluations of certain chemical facilities without jeopardizing innovation. The Obama administration has repeatedly supported the standards’ continuation, but only on a year-to-year basis, while SOCMA has strongly endorsed permanent reauthorization. Through testimony before Congress and organizing member visits on Capitol Hill, SOCMA has put forth a tremendous effort to ensure that, so far, highly negative provisions are excluded from permanent legislation.
“We have effectively kept the most egregious proposals pushed by environmental groups away from the president’s desk that would mandate harmful product and process substitutions under the guise of security,” said Bill Allmond, SOCMA’s vice president of Government and Public Relations. “Contrary to assumptions of some in Congress, product substitutions don’t occur overnight, particularly within specialty and custom chemistry.”
Another developing challenge in which SOCMA is engaging is attempts by the EPA to force chemical companies to reveal confidential business information (CBI). The EPA is rolling out a proposal to require the industry to justify CBI claims even before a new substance is manufactured.
The association also continues to play a major role in efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Last year, SOCMA participated in a series of stakeholder meetings convened by the staff of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and James Inhofe (R-OK) to voice its concerns about the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, S. 847. The legislation, spearheaded by Lautenberg, would require a minimum data set for all chemicals and revise provisions on protection of confidential business information.
SOCMA does not anticipate much more progress on TSCA reform this year from a legislative standpoint. However, the association will continue to educate members of Congress about our position and dispel some of the common myths that have driven discussions over reform. To that end, SOCMA has created a website called www.ChemicalsInCommerce.com, which addresses some of the common myths in the TSCA reform debate.
This year, Congress, and particularly the House of Representatives, will continue to focus on oversight of the EPA and regulatory review. As 2011 came to a close, the House passed three separate regulatory reform bills, including the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, HR 10, which would require congressional approval of any regulations that are projected to have a cost impact of $100 million or more. None of these bills are expected to pass the Senate; even if they do, the Obama administration has threatened to veto them. Nonetheless, congressional Republicans will continue to push this issue during this election year.
Environmental StewardshipSOCMA recognizes the growing interest in greener supply chains and higher consumer demand for green or bio-based products. Our members are on the cutting edge of innovation and have a vested interest in advancing the development of more sustainable products. As such, beginning this year, SOCMA members will report greenhouse gas metrics to ChemStewards®, the association’s flagship environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) continuous performance improvement program.
The association also recently announced its definition of sustainability, which references the development of products and processes, as well as stewardship and economic impact. The definition states: “Meeting the needs of the global economy and improving the quality of life through developing and/or continuously improving chemical products and processes while practicing environmental and human health stewardship for current and future generations.”
Another key component of ChemStewards is product stewardship, which requires program participants to ensure the responsible management of the EHS&S aspect of a product along the supply chain. The program promotes communication and involvement of suppliers, customers, and others in the management of EHS&S issues such as safe transport, storage, use, and disposal.
“To date, 97% of SOCMA members are currently in compliance with the program-a testament to their commitment to maintain high compliance standards for their employees, business partners, and the communities in which they serve,” said Hurder. “This is an enviable record that’s unparalleled in the industry and speaks to the dedication member companies demonstrate to ensure they are good corporate citizens.”
The Road AheadAs the elections begin to heat up this summer, congressional paralysis will continue to be the norm in Washington and most of our legislative priorities will have to wait until 2013. However, SOCMA is not writing off 2012. Rather, we’re encouraging members to engage Congress as we shift our strategic focus from “advocate to educate” and make the most out of a bad political situation. SOCMA plans to accomplish this by increasing its grassroots efforts to get members of Congress into member facilities for site visits and making the annual Washington Fly-In a top priority.
We will also continue to increase awareness of the ChemStewards program to key stakeholders, specifically chemical facility employees, federal, state and local regulators, and the communities in which SOCMA members work and live. The program, now in its seventh year, has succeeded beyond the most optimistic expectations in a few short years. However, as public scrutiny of the chemical industry grows, SOCMA is doing more to engage these stakeholders and grow the ChemStewards program into a force that can increase public confidence.
As a member organization, we are also keenly aware of the challenges of doing business in today’s economy and will continue offering members ample opportunities to grow their businesses and work smarter. Later this year, we will host a Leadership Conference in conjunction with our 9th Annual Chemical Industry Golf Tournament in Cambridge, MD. The event offers an excellent opportunity to network with peers and learn about trends affecting the chemical industry. If your company is a batch chemical manufacturer or distributor, consider joining SOCMA and experience these benefits for yourself.
For additional information, contact SOCMA at 1850 M St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036; phone (202) 721-4100; fax (202) 296-8120; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.socma.com.