In the wake of supply chain vulnerabilities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has undertaken a broad effort to repatriate its semiconductor manufacturing. Spearheaded by the passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in June 2021, the Biden administration plans to spend $52 billion to shore up this critical supply chain.
Unfortunately, all of this effort and taxpayer funding may be for naught if progressives in Congress and regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency are successful in pushing a wholesale ban on PFAS chemicals.
Involved in everything from producing semiconductors to helping cool data centers, PFAS chemicals have become increasingly important as chips are built to provide faster speeds at smaller sizes. Banning them would only exacerbate the current chip shortage and boost costs even higher for consumers already feeling inflationary price pressures.
Driving the narrative to ban PFAS chemicals have been environmentalists, the media and trial lawyers. But the fact of the matter is that PFAS contamination is in no way the most pressing issue impacting U.S. waterways and supplies.
Recent environmental impact reports have shown that bodies of water contain only trace amounts of PFAS and that they have been steadily declining due to changes made by manufacturers over the past 20 years. In fact, the EPA lists industry and agricultural, human and animal waste, treatment and distribution, and natural sources as the most common sources of drinking water contaminants and does not even mention PFAS on its primary list.
The PFAS Action Act, a bill Congress is considering that would ban these chemicals, further fails to recognize the unique chemical makeup and uses of individual PFAS compounds.
There are nearly 5,000 different types of PFAS, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and the majority have not been deemed harmful. Still, elected officials and regulators continue to insist on lumping all PFAS substances together. To eliminate an entire large complex group of chemicals because of only a few known outliers would be a disastrous drain of money and resources.
The negative effect of a PFAS ban on our military and national security, which rely upon a steady supply of semiconductors to field advanced weapons systems, is also concerning.
The U.S. has become increasingly reliant upon Asian suppliers such as Taiwan and South Korea for its semiconductors. As China becomes more overt in its attempts to take over Taiwan and conflict becomes more likely, this usurpation of a critical semiconductor supplier would pose a serious national security risk to the U.S. The fact of the matter is we cannot afford to allow such a critical component of our national defense to fall into the hands of hostile foreign actors and must take steps here at home to make sure that does not happen.
Furthermore, while the U.S. may ban PFAS, this will not stop other countries from continuing to use them in their manufacturing processes. This would in effect result in unilateral economic disarmament with a negative economic impact that would be felt in sectors of the economy far beyond just high technology.
In Arizona, which has become ground zero for the semiconductor repatriation effort, two new plants are currently under construction.
Thousands of good-paying jobs will be created, all while bolstering our domestic chip-making capabilities and boosting our economy, both nationally and locally. One real estate firm has noted that these facilities are “changing the employment landscape in Phoenix.” As a result, it has acquired a 30-acre site near the North Phoenix chip manufacturing facility under construction to build a mixed-use project that will feature apartments and 35,000 square feet of retail.
Such impactful secondary economic effects in local communities will all be lost if PFAS laws under consideration in effect ban domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
It is curious that, on one hand, the Biden administration claims to support repatriating critical chip manufacturing and boosting our energy independence, while the EPA is at the same time regulating such industries to their death.
We are now facing draconian shortages of everything from food to fertilizer to cement, and rising energy prices are squeezing American wallets and driving inflation. Now, chip manufacturing shortages are being driven by environmentalists who seek to regulate these industries to a halt and to destroy our economy and the quality of life of all Americans. It all appears like a sleight of hand to hide the political agenda of unelected bureaucrats who are likely in charge.
Given the broad negative economic and national security implications of the PFAS Action Act, Congress must not pass this legislation. We need further scientific analysis and a better grasp of the true health implications before rushing forward with such an ill-conceived measure.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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