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Alicia Meads

Another Great Example of Manufacturers Improving Sustainability

By | Energy | One Comment

Earlier this week Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging, Inc. released their first-ever Sustainability Report, once again demonstrating the commitment of manufacturers to sustainable business practices.  Longview’s report highlights their safety and environmental protection improvements. 

This report illustrates how businesses can both grow and continue refining their sustainable practices to benefit the community, employees, and investors.  A few of the highlights for Longview are their large reduction of direct greenhouse gas emissions as well as overall reductions in energy and water usage. 

Longview is the most recent example of manufacturers committed to melding sustainability to their production processes while experiencing business growth. Manufacturers in the U.S. continue to increase their sustainable practices and prove they are global leaders in their dedication to innovative business approaches. 

You can read Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging, Inc.’s full press release click here, additionally their full Sustainability Report can be viewed here.

Alicia Meads is director of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

EPA to Review Regulation on Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for New Power Plants

By | Energy | No Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this afternoon that it will reconsider some aspects of its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for new power plants. The Agency will also stay the new source rules for three months during the review process.

According to a press release, the EPA “will review monitoring issues related to the mercury standards for new power plants and will address other technical issues on the acid gas and particle pollution standards for these plants.”

The MATS rule is one of the most expensive regulations ever promulgated by the agency for power plants, and we hope the EPA’s reconsideration will provide some relief for companies building five new power plants in Georgia, Kansas, Texas and Utah.

We will be closely following developments over the next few months as the EPA begins the reconsideration. Hopefully the EPA is begining to see the many challeges and burdens this regulation will place on energy producers. This regulation will result in increased energy prices for manufacturers, contributing to the already unfavorable business environment that is limiting job growth.

Alicia Meads is director of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

California Manufacturers Concerned with Proposed Air Quality Regulations

By | Economy, Energy, Regulations | No Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to pile on complex  regulations that impact manufacturers. Just last month, the Agency proposed more stringent air quality standards for fine particulate matter (i.e. PM2.5 NAAQS). Business groups are already starting to speak out. At an EPA public hearing yesterday in Sacramento, CA, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association (CMTA) urged the EPA to maintain the current PM2.5 standards.

“This proposal will unnecessarily burden the economy at a time when the country and California, in particular, are struggling to overcome the recession,” stated Mike Rogge, Policy Director at the CMTA. Rogge’s testimony highlighted the serious and immediate consequences for areas that do not attain the air quality standards established by the EPA. For example, companies building new facilities or performing major modifications to certain existing facilities in, or near, a non-attainment area will be required to install the most effective emission reduction technology regardless of cost. The EPA’s actions will cause many manufacturers around the country to think twice before expanding their operations.

We encourage all manufacturers to urge the EPA to retain the existing PM2.5 standards during the comment period which ends on August 31, 2012. You can learn more about the EPA’s proposal here.

International Paper Announces Sustainability Goals for 2020

By | General | No Comments

Manufacturers continue to set ambitious goals for their sustainability programs. Last month, International Paper, announced 12 voluntary sustainability goals which included:

  • 15% improvement in energy efficiency in purchased energy use;
  • 20% absolute reduction in global GHG emissions associated with production; and,
  • 15% global increase in third-party certified fiber volume.

Other goals focused on philanthropy, safety and water use. These benchmarks were part of International Paper’s 2011 Sustainability Report which also highlighted achievements such as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leadership Award, improvements in worker safety and sustainability accolades from Fortune Magazine and the Ethisphere Institute.

In a press release, Chairman and CEO John Faraci stated, “At International Paper, sustainability is more than a business practice. Environmental, social and economic performance has been at the core of our company for more than 110 years. Stewardship of the forestland and surrounding habitat is ingrained in our company’s DNA.”

We applaud International Paper’s efforts and look forward to tracking the company’s progress as it works to achieve these sustainability goals.

Senate Panel Highlights Manufacturers’ Sustainability Efforts

By | General | No Comments

Manufacturers are leading the way in implementing successful sustainability programs, according to testimony from several witnesses at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee hearing on “Growing Long-Term Value: Corporate Environmental Responsibility and Innovation.” Executives from four companies – Intel Corporation, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Eastman Chemical Company, and FedEx Corporation – testified before Subcommittee Chair Tom Udall (D-NM) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on the ways in which each company is fostering innovation, reducing waste and air emissions, and creating more sustainable products through voluntary initiatives.

All four witnesses noted that the programs have helped improve their company’s bottom line, even though many of the projects require up-front investment. For example,

  • Intel has invested $100 million in water conservation initiatives that have yielded over 40 billion gallons of water savings;
  • Procter & Gamble stated in its written testimony that its energy savings will be greater than the per-site energy consumption at 80% of its facilities worldwide;
  • Eastman has utilized a Department of Energy (DOE) program called Save Energy Now and has found $3 million in savings opportunities so far; and,
  • FedEx has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and improved the mileage of its FedEx vehicles. It recently purchased six solar energy facilities as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Len Sauers, Vice President of Global Sustainability at Procter & Gamble, testifies at the hearing.

Sen. Alexander expressed concern that some costly and overly-burdensome federal regulations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Boiler MACT proposal, can often hurt manufacturers’ sustainability efforts by diverting resources towards unnecessary equipment retrofits. Sen. Udall (D-NM) stressed the importance of public-private partnerships between the federal government and businesses in continuing to drive innovation and environmental responsibility. Manufacturers are encouraged by the Senate Subcommittee’s focus on sustainability and acknowledgement that many companies are making significant environmental improvements through voluntary initiatives.

More information on the hearing and the written testimony can be found here.

EPA Moves Ahead on Implementing Ozone Air Quality Standards

By | General, Regulations | No Comments

Forty-five areas across the country got some bad news from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today when it released information about what parts of the country are not meeting the 2008 air quality standards for ground-level ozone (i.e. ozone NAAQS). The map below shows the regions that are considered “non-attainment” areas:

Getting slapped with a non-attainment designation is a big deal for the geographic regions highlighted on the map. Just a few of the economic consequences of being a non-attainment area include:

  • Restrictive permitting requirements for new industrial facilities or for existing facilities that make major modifications.
  • Greater EPA involvement and oversight in permit decisions and continuing oversight by the Agency in permitting decisions even after the area has met the air quality standards.
  • Loss of federal highway and transit funding – beginning one year from the date of the designation, federally-supported highway and transit projects cannot proceed in the area unless the state can demonstrate that the project will cause no increase in ozone emissions.
  • Loss of industry and economic development in the area – any company interested in building a facility that emits ozone will probably not build a facility in the area due to the increased costs associated with the restrictive and expensive permit requirements.

Manufacturers continue to be extremely concerned about the EPA’s implementation of the current air quality standards and new standards for particulate matter (i.e. PM2.5) which are scheduled to be proposed in the next few months. As our nations job creators try to get our economy back on track, stringent air quality regulations and standards continually work to derail their progress.

Unilever Makes Progress on Sustainable Living Plan

By | Energy, General | No Comments

Unilever continues to make progress towards its ten-year sustainability goals, the senior leadership team reported today during a briefing on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report 2011 before key opinion leaders in Washington, D.C.

By 2020, the company aims to help more than one billion people improve their health and wellbeing, halve the environmental footprint of its products, and source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably. In addition, Unilever is designing new products which are more sustainable and encourage people to consume more sustainability. For example, the company manufactures food products with recyclable packaging and other products that will help consumers use less water while washing and showering.

Other highlights of Unilever’s progress include:

  • Sustainable sourcing – 100% of its palm oil used in the U.S. is now sourced sustainably (find out more information on sustainable palm oil here).
  • Hygiene – 48 million people reached with Lifebuoy soap’s handwashing programs in 2010 and 2011.
  • Nutrition – good progress in reducing saturated fat in products and eliminating trans fat.
  • Drinking water – 35 million people gained access to safe drinking water from Pureit system since 2005.

Kees Kruythoff, Head of Unilever North America, noted that the company is committed to building upon the progress it has made so far as part of its ten-year plan. We look forward to tracking the company’s success as it continues to enhance the sustainability of its products, its operations and supply chain.

EPA Pulls Dioxin Cleanup Guidelines from White House Review

By | Regulations | No Comments

Manufacturers breathed a sigh of at least temporary relief when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday withdrew its long-stalled Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) for dioxin cleanup from review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

In yet another example of EPA overreach, the Agency lowered the cleanup levels from 1,000 parts-per-trillion (ppt) to 72 ppt. This new goal was near background levels, making it almost impossible to achieve these reductions. The EPA also used questionable science to set the PRGs; the Agency essentially “cherry picked” the data to support its plan regardless of methodological flaws.

The EPA’s proposal would have had severe economic consequences if finalized. The PRG would have forced many municipalities to dig up large tracts of land – even areas that have already been cleaned up to levels approved by the U.S.
government with enormous costs and serious implications for businesses, manufacturers, homeowners and farmers. It would have also stifled brownfield redevelopment at a time when we are trying to put people back to work.

Due to effective regulation and voluntary industry environmental stewardship, the levels of dioxins found in the air, water, soil and our food, have greatly declined. In fact, dioxin emissions from municipal incinerators have declined more than 99 percent from 1987, and according to the EPA’s own analysis, U.S. dioxin emissions from man-made sources have declined by more than 92 percent since 1987.

Manufacturers are still operating under a cloud of regulatory uncertainty as the EPA tries to get it right with its PRGs for dioxin cleanup. We urge the Agency to keep the current guidelines. Any new goals that are adopted, however, should be based on sound science and have undergone a thoughtful cost-benefit analysis.

EPA Shows Regulatory Restraint – But Will It Last?

By | Economy, Regulations | No Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it would retain the current secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). Under the Clean Air Act, secondary standards are established to protect the environment from certain emissions where primary standards are established to protect human health. The EPA noted in its fact sheet on the final rule that the independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) had recommended preserving the current standard based on its review of the available science.

NOx and SOx emissions come from a variety of natural and man-made sources including cars, trucks, buses, power plants, industrial facilities, waste incineration and agricultural sources. The fact sheet also stated that, “since 1980, levels of NOx and SOx in the air have fallen by more than 50 percent and more than 80 percent, respectively.” The resulting decrease has helped mitigate the impact of acid rain or acid deposition on the environment.

We are pleased that the EPA decided to maintain the current standards, but we urge caution as the Agency works to develop a new “multipollutant standard” for NOx and SOx that will also address acid rain deposition. Manufacturers have made great strides to reduce air emissions, and the last thing we need in this tough economy is another overly stringent standard that will do little to improve the environment.

Senate Panel Investigates the EPA’s Utility MACT Rule

By | Energy, Regulations | No Comments

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has not been very active on examining Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that impact manufacturers, but today the Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee held a hearing on the Agency’s recently-finalized Utility MACT rule.

This rule is of particular concern for manufacturers because it is expected to increase electricity costs and may jeopardize grid reliability as coal-fueled power plants are taken off-line. We’ve already begun to see plant closures resulting from this overreaching rule (see our post on the GenOn Energy plant closures).

Despite concerns from utility companies that more time is needed to comply with the rule, Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, stated that the three-year time frame (plus the possibility of an additional year from the state permitting authority) was sufficient. The NAM has been a strong supporter of increasing the compliance time frame, so coal-fueled power plants are able to install new emission control technology without compromising grid reliability. You can read our comments on the proposed rule here.

Rob James, a City Council member from Avon Lake, Ohio, noted that his community is already feeling the effects of this rule. Avon Lake will lose 80 jobs from the GenOn Energy plant closure, and the local economy will also feel the pinch from lost tax revenue and the increase in electricity prices.

We are pleased that this Senate panel is examining the economic impacts of this rule, but more needs to be done. We strongly urge Senators to support Sen. Inhofe’s (R-OK) Resolution of Disapproval (S. J. Res. 37) that would repeal the rule, sending the EPA back to the drawing board to develop a more achievable regulation (read out letter to the subcommittee here). We expect a vote on this resolution in June or July – yet another opportunity for the Senate to show its support for manufacturing jobs.

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