DC: The Road Ahead for Renewable Chemicals & Materials

November 28, 2016 |
Corinne Young

Corinne Young

Michele Jalbert

By Corinne Young and Michele Jalbert, re:chem Alliance

Special to The Digest

It will be some time before the new world order in Washington DC is fully defined. In the wake of his stunning victory, every media outlet and political pundit is parsing clues from President-elect Trump’s meetings, announcements, videos and tweets. For large, entrenched DC interests, this is a very challenging time, working to sort through pitfalls and opportunities. At the Renewable Chemical & Materials Alliance (re:chem), our job is considerably easier. We have a discrete policy agenda, laser-focused on the renewable chemical sector, unencumbered by other priorities which could complicate the policy asks.

As we have penned previously in The Digest, since our launch in 2013, in every policy discussion, re:chem has focused relentlessly on the economic argument that underpins the renewable chemical sector. From our vantage point, it is – and has always been – about innovation, performance and the chance to grow advanced manufacturing in the US, so that we can compete effectively on a global playing field. Amidst all the Sturm und Drang of sorting out a new way forward, re:chem’s messaging will continue to resonate with policymakers in the months ahead. Our policy agenda aligns with the likely priorities of the new Republican-controlled Congress that has given early signals they will tackle tax reform, infrastructure and jobs.

Now, despite all the post-election turbulence, we see a tactical opening to move a top sector priority – enacting a renewable chemical production tax credit (PTC). Tax reform has been called out as an early priority in the new Administration and Congress. With other groups, we have laid the foundation for the PTC over the last several years, working with both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. We also see an opening to pivot around US jobs and pro-growth incentives in potential infrastructure and energy bills. For those of us who know how to cross the partisan divide and get things done — out of all the dislocation — can come opportunity. But only if we organize and seize the moment. For if we do not, there is also risk. This go-round, the sector cannot be left flat-footed, sidelined by other agendas.

As the transition gets underway in earnest, the Republican House Majority has indicated they will table any further action on spending bills, opting instead for a continuing resolution that will fund the government through March 31, 2017. This allows for the seating of a new Congress and the Trump Administration to exercise influence over spending as early as 2017 budgets. Now is the time to shore up support. We can’t disengage or wait to see what happens. Despite the turmoil surrounding this – or any – transition, the government remains open for business.

Re:chem operates as a “swift boat” in the very choppy political waters, with a singular focus on renewable chemical interests. Nimbly working across the partisan aisle and moving strategically to advance the renewable chemical and advanced materials agenda, re:chem worked successfully in the last few years to pry open DOE and USDA funding programs and help protect renewable chemical interests in TSCA reform.

With “special ops” tenacity, we must focus on the mission — to realize the full potential of what the renewable chemical sector has to offer. Under any banner to “make America great” this sector should flourish, bringing high-paying jobs, advanced manufacturing and off-the charts innovation.

In this new political world, tapping our collective influence is critical. We hope you will join us in the effort.

About the authors

As re:chem’s Chief Advocate, Corinne Young championed language in the 2014 Agriculture Act (a.k.a., Farm Bill), Energy Title, expanding BAP *9003 loan guarantees to renewable chemicals and bio-based manufacturing, and continues to broker novel tax credits, loan guarantees, grants, and credit enhancement and project finance programs to unleash a US manufacturing renaissance and ensure US global competitiveness.

During her ten years on Capitol Hill in both the Senate (Sen. Kennedy) and House, and as a Presidential Management Fellow at OMB and Interior, she earned a reputation as a nimble and effective problem solver, bridging partisan divides to get the job done, including seminal bioindustry programs and appropriations. More recently, she was a chief broker and author of RFS2 and bioindustry incentives in EPA 2005, EISA 2007, Farm Bill 2008, and the ARRA 2009, as well as contributing to the White House’s 2012 BioEconomy Blueprint and Advanced Manufacturing initiatives. She has garnered a reputation as a seasoned spokesperson, sought after global conference adviser and presenter, lead for winning coalitions, issue-based campaigns, crisis management solutions, and serves on multiple working groups and boards (currently Co Chair MassBio GreenBiotech and UMass TIMBR). 

As Chief Operating Officer of re:chem, Michele Jalbert is a seasoned government affairs practitioner with over 15 years of DC experience. She is Founder of the Effective Advocates Collaborative, offering a fresh approach to government affairs with nimble, networked advocates providing lobbying, grant-writing and access to other federal funding opportunities. Her advocacy work emphasizes clean tech, particularly sustainable chemistry and advanced manufacturing.

Previously, Michele built an extensive career in a variety of business roles in large corporations, including Liberty Mutual and Polaroid. On the Hill, as Congressman Delahunt’s Washington Director, she managed operations, spearheaded appropriations and led strategic policy initiatives. She also served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel for the New England Council, the nation’s oldest regional business association. She crafted winning strategies and lobbied on diverse issues for major and emerging sectors, from technology and advanced manufacturing, to education, healthcare and financial services. Michele is an attorney and a trained mediator.

More about re:chem here.


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