WASHINGTON - Plastics interests are watching carefully as Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, fires the first Republican broadside in the war against federal regulations by calling for a regulatory freeze. DeLay's bill, an update of an executive order from the Reagan administration, calls for a moratorium on federal rules retroactive to the Nov. 8 election, and lasting through July 1. Two exceptions include presidential authority in the event of national emergency and any federal agency rule that streamlines, repeals or narrows a rule or otherwise reduces regulatory burdens.
``The plastics industry is in favor of constructive regulatory reform and the cessation of regulation where it makes sense,'' said a high-ranking Society of the Plastics Industry staff member, who asked not to be identified.
The Environmental Industries Association, whose membership includes recycling and chemical interests, is ``totally in favor of a freeze,'' said Sheila Hixon, EIA director of congressional relations.
But the association is in the process of polling its board to determine what action to take on Rep. DeLay's bill, she said.
The Senate Republican Policy Committee on Jan. 6 cited Environmental Protection Agency rules as possible candidates for the freeze.
President Clinton made a move in the direction of the bill by issuing an executive order mandating that the benefits of regulations must justify their costs. That, say Republicans, doesn't go far enough.
A DeLay spokesman noted the moritorium would allow new GOP committee and subcommittee chairs time to review agency regulations to see if their costs greatly outweigh benefits.