For the most part, working in government relations is like running a marathon, not a sprint. It can take weeks, months, or even years to formulate an industry consensus position, educate the relevant policymakers in legislatures and executive branch agencies, build alliances and broad support, and ultimately push a final action over the finish line. That metaphor was certainly fitting in recent weeks as IPC scored two interim wins on issues we’ve been working on for years.
Lead-free R&D Wins Support in U.S. House
In late June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an IPC-backed measure to expand research and development into the performance of lead-free electronics in high-reliability sectors, such as aerospace, defense, automotive, and medical equipment. IPC is leading the effort to secure these funds because the high-performance sectors remain reliant on lead-based components, even as the commercial sector has largely phased out the use of lead due to human health and environmental concerns. There is simply not enough data on the performance of Pb-free products to support the move.
In 2009, the Pb-Free Electronics Risk Management (PERM) Council —which is housed at IPC and comprised of subject-matter experts from government, industry, and academia—helped organize a “Lead-Free Manhattan Project” to identify the knowledge gaps and estimate the cost to fill them. The cost estimate of this R&D was about $110 million over three years, broken down into more than 100 projects from $100,000 to $5 million.
Unfortunately, due to DoD budget cuts in the last decade, the R&D project was never fully funded, although some companies and universities continued to work on the smaller chunks. In 2014, IPC completed a “re-baseline” and estimated that about $40–50 million was still needed to complete the knowledge base.
The House called on the DoD to find at least $5 million in such R&D in fiscal 2020. Now, the action moves to the U.S. Senate, where a similar measure is expected to be considered in July. Clearly, this will be a multi-year effort to reach our industry’s goals.
To get caught up, read the press release  on the House vote, read a backgrounder piece , or contact me.
IPC Commends U.S. EPA Proposal on Chemical Data Reporting, Seeks Clarifications
Regarding another long and winding policy road, IPC expressed the electronics industry’s support of many of the U.S. EPA’s proposed changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Requirements. However, IPC requested some specific refinements to ensure the final rules protect human health and the environment while streamlining reporting requirements.
For example, IPC called on EPA to better align reporting requirements under both TSCA and the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. IPC also supports the proposed use of NAICS codes to enable industry-specific analyses that will improve uniformity and comparability. Further, IPC is requesting clarification about how the data are used given that the byproducts—all of which are directed to recycling at facilities within the U.S.—are typically managed in pipes, tanks, and containers with little or no chance of exposure to workers or the general public. Also, none of the chemicals in the byproducts are listed on the EPA’s current list of priorities for regulation.
For more information, read the three-page comments filed at the agency, or contact Kelly Scanlon, IPC Director of EHS Policy and Research.
New Cybersecurity Guidance for Manufacturers
On yet another perennial hot topic, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking public comments on a draft guide for managing cybersecurity risks in manufacturing. This guide is intended to be aligned with manufacturing sector goals and industry best practices, and it provides both general implementation guidance and examples of how currently available open-source and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products can be implemented in manufacturing environments to satisfy the requirements in the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) Manufacturing Profile Low-Security Level. Comments are due by July 8. More information, including a webinar, is available , or contact Ken Schramko, IPC senior director, North America.
We Invite Your Input and Participation!
IPC’s success depends in large part on the guidance and support we receive from IPC members. If you’re a member of IPC and want to be in the loop on our government relations activities, you can opt in to receive advocacy updates. If you are not an IPC member (or you’re not sure), please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, and our staff will add you to our email list.
See you here again next month!
Connect With Us
- IPC. “Pb-Free Electronics Risk Management (PERM) Council.”
- IPC. “U.S. House Approves Measure to Promote Lead-Free R&D in Milaero, Automotive, Medical,” June 21, 2019.
- Mitchell, C. “IPC Working to Revive Lead-Free R&D in High-Reliability Sectors,” April 10, 2019.
- NIST. “Cybersecurity Framework.”
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs and can be reached at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.