Washington Viewpoints

Recently I journeyed to our capital to attend Nickel '97: The Nickel User's Environmental Conference.

Recently I journeyed to our capital to attend Nickel '97: The Nickel User's Environmental Conference. Much of the conference focused on uses for nickel other than for plating. However, there was one topic that most industry can relate to, Environmental Issues on the Agenda of the 105th Congress.

Nanden Kenkeremath, counsel, House Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Hazardous Materials, stated that there will be more regulations over the next four years and more costs. According to Mr. Kenkeremath, there are three fundamental dynamics at work in Washington. One is that EPA sees unlimited shelf space for regulations. A second is that of hypocrisy. If a bipartisan legislation is passed, one party takes all the credit (the one in the White House). The third fundamental dynamic at work is the political process. It is so complicated and involved that it thwarts a good agenda.

Dr. Harvey Alter, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Recycling Coalition, has been around Washington for a while. At least it seemed that way. Dr. Alter stated that in Washington it is Democrat vs. Republican. No one wants anyone to have credit for anything. Dr. Alter also noted that the relationship between Washington and the states is strained. He added that there will be great change in environmental law over the next 10 years, and he is not optimistic about it for industry or trade.

Bill Sonntag, vice president of NES, the lobbying group for the NAMF/AESF/MFSA, had a more positive presentation. He told the group how the finishing industry has worked with the government successfully. He sighted the finishing industry's cooperation and success in the Common Sense Initiative. He also noted the accomplishments of other groups, such as the Milwaukee Branch of AESF, which raised considerable funds for lobbying efforts.

It is quite frustrating to see all the government representatives preaching doom and gloom. Who wants to work within a system that appears to have numerous internal conflicts? One panelist said that the Common Sense Initiative has failed. Not for the finishers. Our representative, Bill Sonntag, was the only panelist to deliver a positive and cooperative viewpoint. Hurrah, for us!