Professionals Asks How Congressional Changes will Impact Glass Industry
November 12, 2010

Following last week’s election, people across the country have wondered how the changes in the House of Representatives ultimately will impact the country. Professionals in the glass industry have their own concerns and expectations, largely revolving around environmental and energy concerns.

“From a manufacturing perspective, we’re a little relieved about the election results and the impact that might have on some of the efforts on greenhouse gasses, and hopefully slow down what the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) been doing, which obviously is a big concern for manufacturers,” says Colleen Levine, director of legislative affairs for the Window and Door Manufacturer’s Association.

Cap-and-trade via legislation was probably already dead before the House changed party majorities and the EPA will be the most likely route of carbon emission regulation,” adds Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America. “I look for a power struggle to ensue among the Obama Administration, the House and the EPA. The EPA will move forward and Congress will attempt to rein it in - but changing the course of the EPA via one chamber of Congress will likely not happen. The result: flat glass manufacturers will have to deal with carbon emission regulation via the EPA.”

Members of the glass industry also are anticipating how Congress will handle incentives for energy-efficient upgrades in the years to come.

Building STAR, which incentivizes commercial energy-efficient retrofits, is still languishing in Congress,” points out Yanek. “The President, though visibly supportive of ‘cash for caulkers’ and other residential-focused incentive programs, has not supported Building STAR with the same fervor.  I expect this to continue as the Obama Administration will be reluctant to support any new programs that cost any amount of money. The best case would probably be a clean energy push that could help the solar industry. The result: other than solar, the glass industry should not expect any financial incentive program to emerge any time soon.

“We’re still working on, on the window side of things, getting an extension of the tax credit for windows and doors.

Hopefully the new Congress will be a little more business friendly and help us,” Levine adds. She explains, “Our big concern is as the tax credit expires at the end of the year, the impact that will have on jobs that have been saved, given the state of the rest of the industry over the past year. Anything we can do to extend or improve the tax credit going forward, we’re hoping to find some willing allies on the Hill for that.”

However, Yanek says, “Congress will now turn its attention to tax policy, budget deficits, debt and spending.  Unfortunately, glass industry priorities will take a back seat for the foreseeable future.”

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