Interior Looks for Comments on Drilling Fee Increase

Today, the Department of the Interior took one big step towards a change in royalty fees paid by companies who want to explore the abundant energy resources located on federal land. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a notice seeking public comment on the need for new regulations and whether the government should be allowed to raise these fees.

Currently, fees assessed by the Department of the Interior are 12.5% of the gross value of production minus allowable deductions. For some leases, this can be tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.    (continue reading…)

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Global Manufacturing Economic Update – April 17, 2015

Here is the summary for this month’s Global Manufacturing Economic Update: 

The global economic environment remains challenged, even as it continues to experience modest growth overall. The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI, for instance, observed the highest production levels since August. Yet, the overall pace of expansion has clearly eased over the past few months. Along those lines, manufacturers in half of the top 10 markets for goods manufactured in the United States reported declining levels of activity in March, up from just two countries in February. Three Asian economies shifted into contraction territory for the month: China, Hong Kong and South Korea. In addition, Brazil and Canada remained challenged, with the latter struggling on lower crude oil prices. Manufacturing in the emerging markets also stagnated in March, with weaknesses in a number of nations counteracting progress in others. (continue reading…)

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Higher Gasoline Costs Help Increase Consumer Prices for the Second Straight Month

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the consumer price index increased for the second straight month in March, up 0.2 percent. This was largely due to higher gasoline prices, which increased 2.4 percent and 3.9 percent in February and March, respectively. To be fair, the price of regular gasoline remains 29.2 percent lower today than it was 12 months ago. Indeed, the average price of regular gasoline rose from $1.982 a gallon on January 26 to $2.348 per gallon on March 30, according to the Energy Information Administration. It has edged marginally lower since then, down to $2.317 per gallon on April 13, or earlier this week. (continue reading…)

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How the TPP Can Be a Game-changer for Manufacturers in the United States

Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the United States and eleven Asia-Pacific nations have been ongoing for several years, but we are finally nearing a make-or-break point in the effort to promote stronger commercial engagement between our nations and set in place new rules on transparency and protections for American innovation and investment that will help raise standards much closer to what we in America have long taken for granted. (continue reading…)

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The MTB: A No-Brainer for Manufacturers

The introduction of bipartisan legislation by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) to establish a new process for Congressional consideration of a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) is a long overdue step that would pave the way for the elimination of taxes that harm manufacturers here in the United States.

During the past 30 years, Congress has supported manufacturing in America by suspending or reducing import taxes on necessary manufacturing inputs that are not available in the United States and must be imported from overseas. The MTB has historically been noncontroversial and has received strong bipartisan and bicameral support: In 2010, the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act passed the House by a 378-43 vote and the Senate by unanimous consent. (continue reading…)

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Introduced

With today’s introduction of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have demonstrated strong bipartisan, bicameral leadership on an issue that is critical to American leadership globally and the ability of manufacturers and their workers in the United States to compete more successfully for the approximately $12 trillion in manufactured goods traded internationally.

TPA is a longstanding and proven procedural partnership between Congress and the Executive Branch that facilitates negotiation and approval of trade agreements that open markets for manufacturers in the United States. It enables Congress to set trade negotiating objectives and increases Congress’s power to shape and influence deals. (continue reading…)

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Philly Fed: Modest Manufacturing Growth in April, but With Lingering Challenges

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity picked up a bit in April after softening over the past three months. The composite index of general business activity rose from 5.0 in March to 7.5 in April. This suggests modest growth overall, even as it continues to show an expansion that was slower than at the end of last year. The headline index was 24.3 in December, for instance. The Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey continues to reflect mostly positive attitudes moving forward, despite headwinds that will continue to challenge growth. One of those headwinds has been a stronger U.S. dollar. (continue reading…)

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Housing Starts Remained Weak in March

The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that residential construction activity remained weak for the second straight month. New housing starts increased 2.0 percent, up from an annualized 908,000 in February to 926,000 in March. Each of those figures, however, remain below the 1,072,000 rate observed in January. They reflect reduced activity in every region of the country, most notably in the Midwest, Northeast and West. Poor weather conditions have been a factor in some regions, and along those lines, starts in the Midwest and Northeast rebounded somewhat as they recovered from heavy snowstorms the month before. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Production Edged Marginally Higher in March

Manufacturing production increased 0.1 percent in March, according to the Federal Reserve Board. This followed three months of weaker data, including declines in both January and February. There have been some significant headwinds hitting the manufacturing sector over the past few months, including a strong U.S. dollar, weakened economic markets abroad, lower crude oil prices, the West Coast ports slowdown and weather. It is clear that these challenges have slowed activity in the sector since November. The year-over-year pace of manufacturing production in March was 2.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in November. In addition, manufacturing capacity utilization was unchanged at 77.1 percent, down from 78.1 percent in November. (continue reading…)

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NY Fed: Manufacturing Orders Contracted in April

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey contracted in April, ending three straight months of expansion in the district. The composite index of general business conditions from the New York Federal Reserve Bank declined from 6.9 in March to -1.2 in April. The decline stemmed from reduced new orders (down from -2.4 to -6.0), which decreased at a faster pace for the month. Nearly one-third of those taking the survey said that their new orders were lower in April, up from 27.5 percent in March. The index for the average employee workweek also narrowed, down from 5.2 to -4.3, but with 78.8 percent of respondents suggesting that the workweek was unchanged.  (continue reading…)

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