But one of the main authors of the Break Free act, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., said the ACC report doesn't consider the environmental issues faced by communities around plastics plants.
"The [ACC] paper completely ignores the environmental justice emergency in these petrochemical corridors," Lowenthal said.
The permitting delay, he said, would "allow EPA to work with the National Academy of Science to study and make necessary updates to regulations to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to ensure that these facilities are not poisoning the environment nor the communities around them."
"The authors didn't seem to account for the increase in missed days at school from asthma attacks or missed days at work due to the ever-increasing cases of cancer that will come from an increased buildout of these petrochemical and refining facilities," Lowenthal said.
Lowenthal said his bill explicitly calls for a pause of no longer than three years, and he questioned the economic modeling in the ACC report, which assumed a pause of between three and five years.
But ACC argued that given delays in federal rule-making, the three-year pause could stretch to five years.
"The idea of pausing production for five years demonstrates a thorough lack of understanding of how American manufacturing works," Baca said. "Our 'just-in-time' economy relies on an uninterrupted supply chain of essential materials that would be severely disrupted by the pause.
"The COVID-19 pandemic recently put our nation on pause," Baca said. "We don't need another, even more devastating, shock to the economy."
The study estimated at least 40,000 direct job losses in the chemical industry over three years, with at least 185,000 jobs lost in supply chains and from broader economic impacts.
In a worst-case, five-year scenario, it said 910,000 jobs and more than $400 billion in economic activity could be lost by 2026.
The pause, which is also part of the House Democrats' Clean Future Act, would apply to facilities making plastic resin, ethylene and propylene from natural gas liquids and to new chemical, or advanced, recycling facilities.
Including chemical recycling facilities has also been a focus of the industry's political pushback.
ACC in March held an online news conference with high-ranking executives like Dow Chairman and CEO Jim Fitterling to argue against the pause, and they released a social media advertisement with this latest report criticizing it.
Industry consultant Bob Bauman said the plan could lead to resin shortages in key markets like those for milk bottles, cars and construction films, and he predicted increasing imports of plastic would cause delays and higher costs because of rising global shipping rates and container shortages.
Bauman, president of Polymer Consulting International in Houston, also noted plastics shortages after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and this year’s winter storms in Texas. Bauman said resin facilities needed new permits to rebuild and resume operations after those events.
“Companies that make plastic products were unable to meet their customer requirements once they used up what little inventory they had on hand,” he said. “Luckily, the [resin] plants received their permits and were able to rebuild the damaged plants over a period of time.”