The presidents of the American Chemical Society and the American Chemistry Council discuss their wishlists for the new administration

The presidents of the American Chemical Society and the American Chemistry Council discuss their wishlists for the new administration

American Chemical Society


Bruce Bursten, ACS

While no one can predict the outcome of the presidential election, one thing is certain: whether the next US President is Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain, he will inherit a hornet’s nest of domestic and international challenges. 
The US faces a daunting range of challenges, including costly global military conflicts, the rising cost of healthcare, the home mortgage crisis, eroding financial security for retirees, soaring energy prices, declining education test scores, and loss of manufacturing jobs. As is the case in the UK, a strong and vibrant economy is the key to addressing these tribulations. Therein lies perhaps our nation’s greatest challenge - how to stimulate an economy that is facing unprecedented competition in the global marketplace. 
The future US leadership must realise that reasserting US global competitiveness requires innovative solutions. And innovation depends heavily on strong and sustained investment in science - both in an education system that generates a future cadre of highly competent and creative innovators and in a robust research and development infrastructure to nurture those future innovators.  
The US cannot continue to defer investment into these important areas. At the end of last year, the US Congress missed a golden opportunity by denying full funding for the America COMPETES Act. This law authorised $43.3 billion (?24 billion) to increase investment in science and engineering research. It also put the budgets of the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science on track to double in seven years. In addition, the law boosted investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.  
Supported overwhelmingly by both Democrats and Republicans, the law implemented many recommendations in a 2005 report by the US National Academies. That report, Rising above the gathering storm: energising and employing America for a brighter economic future  , focused on scientific shortfalls faced by the US and made recommendations to address those challenges and keep the economy strong. 
Our economic situation will continue to suffer the longer these problems remain unaddressed. As the new President enters office in January 2009, he must work with the next Congress to bolster the US scientific infrastructure. An essential first step would be to fully fund the America COMPETES Act - and boldly set in place funding mechanisms and programs that will sustain these investments for decades ahead. 
ACS and its members stand ready to work with the new President and Congress to address our national challenges, as well as with our partner societies around the world, such as the RSC, to address our shared international challenges. After all, as this readership will doubtless concur, chemistry and the work of chemists everywhere is central to everything in our lives and is central to solving most of our future global challenges.  
Bruce Bursten, president, American Chemical Society 


American Chemistry Council


Cal Dooley, ACC

No matter who takes the oath of office next January, the new president will be well served by understanding the crucial role that the $664 billion (?374 million) business of chemistry plays in America’s economy. 
Chemical products account for 10 per cent of the nation’s exports and touch 96 per cent of US manufactured goods. Maintaining America’s global leadership requires a president who understands our industry is a national asset, especially in five crucial policy areas. 
The chemical industry enables families and businesses to conserve energy. Chemistry goes into products that enhance America’s energy efficiency, including insulation, wind power blades, solar panels, lightweight vehicle parts, compact fluorescent lights and more. We’ve reduced our greenhouse gas emissions 13 per cent from 1990 to 2007, despite production increases, and have improved energy efficiency at our plants 27 per cent since 1990.  
The US needs strong presidential leadership to increase energy efficiency and conservation, promote alternative and renewable technologies and expand access to domestic energy supplies. 
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and our member companies are committed to safeguarding US chemical facilities. To date, our members have invested more than $6 billion in security enhancement, and they led the charge to establish national chemical security regulations. Under those rules, facilities that use or store chemicals must meet specific security obligations and the federal government can shut down facilities that do not comply. 
The US needs a president who will support permanent chemical security standards and continue to enforce risk-based security regulations.  
Many ACC members and their customers rely on the railroads to provide reliable and competitive service. Unfortunately, these same companies face skyrocketing rail transportation costs and poor service due to outdated federal policies that shield railroads from fully competing with one another. 
The US needs a president who agrees to end rail monopolies and promote a healthy, reliable, competitively-priced freight rail system. 
The chemical industry works closely with government, academic and non-government organisations, spending more than $14 billion per year to comply with federal regulations and $26 billion per year on research and development. Under ACC’s Responsible Care program, member companies have committed to implementing appropriate management systems to reduce risks to human health and the environment. Despite an extraordinary safety record, our industry continues to face attacks on some essential products that are simply not supported by the science. 
The US needs a president who will lead a government response to public concerns based on solid health-related information. 
ACC has fostered strong bipartisan relationships in Washington. Though ACC does not endorse presidential candidates, we know the kind of leadership the nation requires. To us, it is a matter of finding the right chemistry. 
Cal Dooley, president, American Chemistry Council