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State Of The Union

Did Biden’s State of the Union Address American Chemistry Council Concerns?

Feb. 8, 2023
A comparison of what the ACC wanted to hear and what President Biden said

Prior to President Biden’s State of the Union address on Feb. 7, American Chemistry Council (ACC) President and CEO Chris Jahn released the following statement:

“President Biden and the 118th Congress are working to tackle America’s foremost challenges and opportunities, including delivering on a promise of a cleaner, safer and healthier future for us all. They cannot deliver on this promise without the U.S. business of chemistry. Virtually every ambition the Administration holds on sustainability, energy, climate, circularity, infrastructure, and the economy depend on the innovations of chemistry and plastics.

“With President Biden focused on growing our economy, strengthening supply chains, and promoting domestic production of clean energy, we remind the administration that our industry not only provides hundreds of thousands of jobs to Americans who need them most, but we also create many of the critical products and technologies that make achieving these goals possible. Semiconductors, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and more all rely on the U.S. business of chemistry.

“We encourage the White House, federal agencies, and Congress to pursue policies that will enable the U.S. chemical industry, not stifle it, so that it can continue to be a catalyst to addressing all of these important issues and more.” (Read the full statement.)

So how did Biden fair on Jahn’s calls to action?

Infrastructure

ACC Statement: Chemical manufacturers need reliable systems to operate, while innovations made possible by chemistry are essential to infrastructure development. Chemistry makes infrastructure lighter, stronger, more resilient and more cost effective and will be vital during implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Biden’s Address: … to maintain the strongest economy in the world, we also need the best infrastructure in the world.

We used to be No. 1 in the world in infrastructure, then we fell to 13th.

Now we’re coming back, because we came together to pass the bipartisan infrastructure law, the largest investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System.

Already, we’ve funded over 20,000 projects, including at major airports from Boston to Atlanta to Portland.

These projects will put hundreds of thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, bridges, railroads, tunnels, ports and airports, clean water, and high-speed internet across America.

Energy & Innovation

ACC’s Statement: Chemical manufacturing is an energy-intensive industry; Congress can help enable a lower-emissions future and a competitive U.S. manufacturing sector by facilitating access to and development of a range of energy sources, including natural gas, and technologies while promoting energy efficiency.

Chemistry is at the heart of an innovative future. From lithium-ion batteries to solar cells and wind turbines, energy-efficient insulation and windows, and lightweight materials for fuel-efficient cars and automobiles, chemistry—and the facilities that produce it—are helping achieve a more innovative, sustainable future.

Biden’s Address: Clean energy to cut pollution and create jobs in communities too often left behind.

We’re building 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations, installed across the country by tens of thousands of IBEW workers.

And helping families save more than $1,000 a year with tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances.

Historic conservation efforts to be responsible stewards of our lands.

Let’s face reality.

The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue. It is an existential threat.

We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to confront it. I’m proud of how America is at last stepping up to the challenge.

But there’s so much more to do.

We will finish the job.

Transportation & Supply Chain

ACC’s Statement: We must move goods faster and cheaper in America. Promoting greater competition among freight rail carriers, improving ocean ports and waterways, and removing numerous regulatory barriers to make it easier for truckers to do their jobs are necessary to meet the current and future transportation needs of our industry and the farmers, manufacturers and energy producers who depend on the business of chemistry.

Biden’s Address: Today’s automobiles need up to 3,000 chips each, but American auto makers couldn’t make enough cars because there weren’t enough chips.

Car prices went up. So did everything from refrigerators to cellphones.

We can never let that happen again.

That’s why we came together to pass the bipartisan Chips and Science Act.

We’re making sure the supply chain for America begins in America.

We’ve already created 800,000 manufacturing jobs even without this law.

With this new law, we will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country.

That’s going to come from companies that have announced more than $300 billion in investments in American manufacturing in the last two years.

Outside of Columbus, Ohio, Intel is building semiconductor factories on a thousand acres—a literal field of dreams.

That’ll create 10,000 jobs: 7,000 construction jobs. 3,000 jobs once the factories are finished.

Jobs paying $130,000 a year, and many don’t require a college degree.

Jobs where people don’t have to leave home in search of opportunity.

And it’s just getting started.

Think about the new homes, new small businesses, and so much more that will come to life.

Talk to mayors and governors, Democrats and Republicans, and they’ll tell you what this means to their communities.

We’re seeing these fields of dreams transform the heartland.

About the Author

Traci Purdum | Editor-in-Chief

Traci Purdum, an award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering manufacturing and management issues, is a graduate of the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent, Ohio, and an alumnus of the Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.