Back in October, the Louisiana Chemical Association and the Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance announced that Gregory Bowser would be the next president of the two organizations.
Bowser is the first black leader of a Louisiana statewide business trade association, according to the announcement. He replaces Dan Borné, who is retiring after leading the groups for 28 years.
Bowser joined the organizations in 1991 and had been executive vice president for LCA and LCIA since 2011. The Baldwin native was former Gov. Buddy Roemer’s assistant chief of staff from 1988-1990 and was on the staff of former U.S. Rep. Jimmy Hayes from 1986-87.
The youngest of 15 children, he is a 1983 graduate of LSU, where he lettered for four years as a football defensive lineman. Here are his takes on five key issues the petrochemical industry faces.
We’re seeing in Louisiana some really historic growth in the petrochemical industry. We see possibilities for it to continue. The issue becomes the overall business climate in Louisiana. Fracking has lowered natural gas prices and made natural gas available in many different places, so the competition for those new projects increases.
[Note: The Toxic Substances Control Act has just been updated for the first time in 40 years.] We’ll be able to put in place different standards, just because of the science that has developed over the years. We’re going to be looking at what the EPA does, with respect to things that are science-based, as opposed to things that are emotional from an industry perspective or the general public. The big thing is going to be what happens now with this new presidential administration. We hope that [TSCA implementation] doesn’t change a lot from what Congress passed.
STATE TAX REFORM
We would like to see a flatter, fairer tax base. But instead of reforming our total tax system, along with budget reforms, everything has been focused on just raising revenue. Our recent experience shows that there are not going to be very many taxes on individuals. We want to shift all of that to business interests. When you do that, it puts a damper on the overall business climate of the state.
INDUSTRIAL TAX EXEMPTION
We’re really struggling with the recent changes. You have all these local government bodies that you have to negotiate with. And then once you come to an agreement, it has to come back to the state. It makes it cumbersome. You want to make it easier for people to do business, not more difficult. And you want to have certainty, not uncertainty.
As we expand, we’ve got to make sure we can move employees back and forth. When you start recruiting people to come to work in Louisiana, they look at the traffic hassle they’re going to have to deal with. The issue is going to be funding. I think they’re proposing a gas tax to fund many of those needed projects. There is going to be a lot of money at the federal level, but a lot of the federal money is going to require a state match, so the state’s going to have to generate some additional revenue just to draw down the federal dollars.
Originally published in the first quarter 2017 edition of 10/12 Industry Report.