The recovering American economy is fraught with snags on Capitol Hill as finger pointing is substituted for accountability concerning everything from declining oil prices to immigration reform and healthcare. All are political footballs that are being passionately debated, causing wider division between parties and additional divisions within parties.

Today we’ll look at a few items of interest, starting with a bill aimed at reining in regulatory costs that has environmentalists fuming. Also, the chemical industry as the best global economic indicator does not offer encouraging predictions. Additionally, shale oil looks as if it is on the brink of a slowdown in production as prices continue to fall. And, a major business group was formed to collectively cut the cost of manufacturing composites. These are the hot-button issues in the news that affect our economic well-being. Let’s see what the pundits say.

Environmentalists Oppose House Bill That Cuts Regulatory Costs
According to a Timothy Cama article in The Hill, environmentalists are angered by a House bill aimed at reining in regulatory costs that they claim would hamper the government’s ability to fight pollution.

Business groups, however, welcomed the bill and encourage its passage.

The American Chemistry Council said the bill would provide relief from the billions of dollars of upcoming regulations its industry is facing.

“America’s chemistry industry is making a major contribution to economic recovery, with more than $136 billion in new U.S. investment planned or underway,” the group wrote to lawmakers with various other interest groups.

“Yet we face a flawed regulatory process that adds substantial costs, complexity and uncertainty to projects. The Regulatory Accountability Act is an important step toward common-sense, cost-effective rules and a clearer, more transparent process.”

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Economic Future Looks Gloomy as Chemical Industry Limps Along
Paul Hodges, in an ICIS article concurs with the ACC’s commentary about the less than encouraging outlook for the chemical industry on a global scale.

Apparently, the only significant production gains are in North America, fueled by their shale gas advantage. Central & Eastern Europe had nominal gains as did Africa & the Middle East and, to a lesser extent Asia-Pacific. Chemical industry production contracted elsewhere with year-earlier comparisons negative for Germany, Italy and the UK as well as in the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece.

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As Oil Falls, Government Predicts Production Slowdown
AP writer Jonathan Fahey agrees with the industry-wide forecast that U.S. shale operators will begin to slow down production in the second half of the year.

Fahey’s article says that typical U.S. households will spend $750 less on gasoline this year than in 2014, because the average gasoline price will fall to $2.33 per gallon, from $3.36 last year, according to Energy Department forecasts. This might be good for consumers, but it has everyone from environmentalists to industry analysts concerned.

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Major Companies Form Composites Manufacturing Partnership
An Environmental Leader article reported that Volkswagen, Ford, BASF, Dow Chemical and General Electric are among the 57 companies participating in the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a public-private partnership aimed at creating jobs and boosting manufacturing within the automotive, wind turbine and compressed gas storage industries.

IACMI is dedicated to developing low-cost, high-production, energy-efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for composites applications.

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