In the wake of the 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the country has seen a proliferation of so-called “micro-units” instead of the traditional “wall-to-wall” bargaining units. The change in the test for determining the appropriate size of a bargaining unit has led to the creation of these smaller micro-units even when every other factor, especially common sense, points in the opposite direction. Read More
The Supreme Court recently granted cert in Tibble v. Edison Int’l to decide whether plan participants can challenge investment decisions by plan fiduciaries made more than six years before the suit was filed, if the decisions could have been reconsidered during the six-year window. A ruling by the Court in this case could have a significant impact on plan fiduciaries by addressing the nature of a separate duty to reconsider past decisions and whether a theory of “continuing violation” can be used to evade ERISA’s limitations period. Read More
NAM member Ball Corporation has for the second year in a row been recognized as an industry leader in corporate sustainability by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America. Ball also took first place in the Container and Packaging Category and remains the only company in its sector to appear on both lists.
“The Dow Jones recognition is important to us and we’re thrilled to be listed again this year,” said John A. Hayes, chairman, president and CEO. He went on to say that sustainability is a “fundamental part” of the company’s vision, and that their high scores highlight their drive to make sustainability efforts an integrated part of Ball. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the DJSI, and each year the index is modified to better reflect trends in corporate sustainability management and to better gauge corporation’s sustainability practices. The index takes a variety of factors in to account, including environmental, economic and social.
Dow Jones is not the only organization to recognize Ball Corporations success in sustainability. In June, Newsweek, in partnership with Corporate Knights Capital and leading sustainability experts, ranked Ball third among the 500 largest U.S. companies on overall environmental performance. Ball also has been listed in the international FTSE4Good index for five consecutive years and is included in the MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes, the STOXX Global ESG Leader Indices and the Euronext Vigeo US 50 index.
Manufacturers are committed to sustainable practices and the NAM is happy to see that its members are being recognized for their efforts. For more information on Ball’s sustainability efforts and an overview of all external assessments, please visit www.ball.com/sustainability.
Today the House energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act. Introduced by Chairman Upton (R-MI) and Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), the bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 31 to 19. This is an important step forward for a piece of legislation that will prevent a future debacle over the Keystone XL pipeline like the one we are seeing now.
H.R. 3301 will change the approval process for cross-border pipelines. It eliminates the Presidential Permit requirement for construction or modification of pipelines that cross the U.S. boundary and instead provides for ‘certificates of crossing” to be issued subject to a NEPA review. It also flips the “national interest” requirement, such that a certificate must be issued after NEPA unless the pipeline is contrary to the public interest of the U.S. These are important measures to streamline what has proven to be a long, frustrating process to approve the XL pipeline. As Chairman Upton commented, “This approach is a sincere effort to focus on a targeted solution to the lessons learned from the Keystone pipeline. No one can rightly argue that the current Presidential Permit process is not broken.”
The NAM has fought long and hard to see that our country has access to a robust mixture of energy, which includes projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone XL It would contribute $3.4 billion to the U.S. GDP and is projected to provide more than 42,000 badly needed jobs. While the pipeline would greatly increase our energy supplies from a valued trading partner, the Administration’s handling of the matter has demonstrated that they are committed to a policy of obfuscation. Congressman Green added that, “Pipelines and electric transmission facilities would secure our energy needs, increase economic efficiencies that were created through NAFTA agreements, and build a new energy powerhouse in the Western Hemisphere.”
H.R. 3301 expedites our need to build additional pipeline and other energy projects that cross the border between the U.S. and Canada. These projects are vital to both nations, and while they need to be done correctly they need to be completed in a timely manner. As the Administration’s recent actions have shown, drastic changes are needed to the approval process to allow us to the respond to our energy needs in anything approaching a reasonable time frame.
On March 19th the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report saying that the pace of regulations being put out by the EPA “has slowed considerably” since 2011. The paper, titled “EPA Regulations: too Much, Too Little, or on Track?” says that this is in part because the agency has finally been able to address much of the backlog accrued during the Bush administration.
However, the report goes on to point out the host of major regulatory actions still under way that have drawn heavy criticism from industry groups as well as bipartisan concerns from Congress. This is because while the overall number of regulations has decreased, the scope of the current rules being considered is unprecedented.
The pending major regulations highlighted in the report include the treatment of coal ash, the NAAQS for ozone, and of course the standards for new and existing power plants. These are all issues on which the NAM has urged the administration to take a moderate approach due to what will undoubtedly be a major impact on manufacturing and our nation’s economy.
Also presciently mentioned in the report was the “Waters of the United States” rulemaking, which was issued just a week after the CRS report came out. EPA’s attempt to expand their jurisdiction over various waters has been strongly opposed by the NAM. Under this newly proposed rule many seasonal and ephemeral water flows and artificial tributaries, including impoundments and wetlands, with even a remote connection to adjacent to or near downstream waters, will be subject to the Clean Water Act. Senator John Barrasso called the proposal “a massive federal power grab that will cost land owners, ranchers and small business owners thousands of dollars in permitting fees and compliance costs.”
While it may be true that the EPA is issuing fewer regulations, they are more than making up for it with the supersized rules sitting in the hopper. The EPA may not be coming up to the plate as often, but when they do they swing for the fence.
Tomorrow March 12th the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing entitled “Science of Capture and Storage: Understanding EPA’s Carbon Rules”. The hearing will explore the EPA’s conclusion that carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems are “adequately demonstrated” for use in limiting carbon dioxide emissions in commercial power plants. These CCS systems have been at the forefront of the EPA’s proposed power plant rules that will place a huge burden on the nation’s energy supply that threatens our manufacturing competitiveness.
EPA Administrator McCarthy recently stated that power plant rulemaking has drawn an “unprecedented” number of comments, and with good reason. While the EPA claims that the nascent technology is sufficiently developed, all the evidence seems to point to the contrary.
The hearing will feature a panel of speakers from the environment, technology and utility fields. Among them is Robert Hilton, Vice President for Government Affairs at Alstom Power Inc., which is a leader in CCS technologies. Hilton will testify that, while CCS has been proven at smaller pilot projects, there is not a single power plant in the world that has demonstrated CCS on the commercial scale necessary to meet the EPA standards. This is exactly what the NAM and other industry leaders have been saying all along – the EPA’s performance standards are unattainable and will effectively shut out vital fossil fuels as viable energy sources.
The NAM has advocated heavily for an all-of-the-above approach to energy policies. As the testimony in this hearing will highlight, the Administration has pushed its own agenda above the protests of manufacturers of the technology who know it simply isn’t viable. While it might be wishful thinking that another hearing will make the EPA change their course, it’s certainly better to light a candle than curse the darkness.