The Point Logo

Biden EPA Relegates Domestic Chemical Production To China 

Posted: May 1, 2024

While we already know that the Biden administration, especially through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is broadly imposing heavy-handed and costly regulations, it’s doing so while neglecting to consider the wider implications for American economic security. As one notable example, the EPA just finalized a rule severely restricting the consumer and industrial uses of a widely-used solvent called methylene chloride (or dichloromethane). 

This compound is used in the production of pharmaceuticals, refrigerants, polycarbonates, battery components, and in commercial or industrial settings as a paint stripper and metal degreaser. These new restrictions could undermine the economic viability of producing methylene chloride domestically here in the United States. 

Here’s what we know: 

Restricting some of the most common usages will shrink the market, threatening the business of U.S. producers even for remaining permitted uses because it could simply be too expensive to make a critical chemical on such a small scale. This will lead those who still use the compound under exemptions – like the U.S. military – to outsource and buy from foreign producers–like those in China. 

The reduced scale could potentially have implications for thousands of jobs here in the  U.S. including in states like Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas. 

This is a classic case of a free market regulating itself out of relevance, leaving the spoils to foreign producers at the exact same time we are pushing for domestic supply chains. The national and economic concerns with this regulation have caught the attention of bipartisan lawmakers like Sens. Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio). These leaders should continue to raise questions and recruit sensible colleagues to the cause.