Industrials Regulatory News and Trends - February 3, 2023
Welcome to Industrials Regulatory News and Trends. In this regular bulletin, DLA Piper lawyers provide concise updates on key developments in the industrials sector to help you navigate the ever-changing business, legal and regulatory landscape.
Trucking legislation will help chemicals industry, says trade association. On January 24, the American Chemistry Council expressed support for proposed bipartisan legislation to help the trucking industry and to address the nation’s supply chain problems. The trade group said that chemical manufacturers have experienced significant business challenges resulting from existing regulatory constraints in the trucking industry. Among these reported challenges: cancelled bookings, higher rates, and longer transit times, resulting in reduced productivity, higher transportation costs, and lost business. Chemical manufacturers, the group said, are concerned that constraints in the trucking industry could hinder future growth and investment in chemical manufacturing. The council said the proposed bill would help by removing “numerous regulatory barriers that will make it easier for truckers to do their job – delivering critical products across the country.”
US representative questions military, industrial readiness on the world stage. During a television appearance on January 30, Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) expressed concerns about US military readiness and the responsiveness of the US industrial base as global tensions heighten and the war in Ukraine continues. “This is a huge problem. And we don’t have the industrial base. And we don’t have the ability to ramp up that industrial base,” Smith told host Shannon Bream on FOX News Sunday. Smith warned that without a “demand signal,” defense manufacturers don’t want to make a “major investment” in increasing production, and American taxpayers “don’t want to spend a ton of money on weapons that we don’t need.” The Armed Services Committee ranking member said he and committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) share the “huge priority” to increase the nation’s weapon production capacity as conflict simmers on the global stage.
Energy Department will fund new proposals for clean-manufacturing R&D. On January 5, the US Department of Energy announced that it is offering $52 million in funding for clean-manufacturing research and development. The new opportunity for government funding will focus on three key areas — next-generation materials and manufacturing, sustainable materials, and energy technology manufacturing. Next-generation funding, supported in part by the department’s Office of Electricity, will focus on improving materials and processes that can maintain high performance and conductivity under extreme conditions. Funding for secure and sustainable materials will target research, development, and demonstration to support the establishment of a circular economy. Research priorities will include material and product design, recycling technology and reverse supply chain logistics. The estimated period of performance for the funding is two to three years, according to the department. Applications are due April 7, with awards expected to be announced in August.
ACC warns against exaggerating the harms of PFAS chemicals. In a January 18 statement, the American Chemistry Council wrote that those who are arguing for the phaseout of PFAS by the government are actually “continuing the alarming trend of taking a specific example of PFAS levels detected in the environment and expanding it exponentially into an unscientific, overly broad indictment of hundreds of chemistries that benefit our lives every day.” The group said that this “inaccurate picture about what threat, if any, is posed due to PFAS exposure does a disservice to the public by creating unnecessary alarm, increasing economic challenges to small businesses, and threatening to divert attention, funding, and resources from more pressing priorities.” It contended that news outlets need to make it clear “that all PFAS chemistries are not the same. Individual chemistries have their own unique health and environmental profiles.”
European space executive says he is looking towards a “zero debris” policy in space. In a suggestion that may be troubling for US companies that want to manufacture in space, the head of the European Space Agency said January 19 that he hopes to have a “zero debris” policy for European spacecraft in place in a few years, an approach he says he would like to see expanded globally. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said he was discussing with the agency’s member states a policy that would require satellites to be deorbited immediately after the end of their missions. “We want to establish a zero debris policy, which means if you bring a spacecraft into orbit you have to remove it,” he said. “This policy should be in place in a couple of years.” Aschbacher also suggested that the zero debris policy be expanded beyond Europe. “I’m working now with my governments in Europe, and hopefully this will be adopted universally because we need to protect our orbits for our own safety and the safety of spacecraft and astronauts,” he said.