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Rachel Jones

NAM Backs FERC Nominee McNamee Ahead of Confirmation Hearing

By | General | No Comments

Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is considering the nomination of Bernard McNamee to serve as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a key independent federal agency that regulates energy infrastructure. With leadership vacancies on the commission causing manufacturers in the United States to miss out on new opportunities to create jobs and grow their business, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent a letter ahead of the hearing to Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urging the committee to back McNamee’s nomination. The letter from NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg reads in part:

“The FERC plays a critical role in ensuring Americans can count on the best energy infrastructure in the world. Moving energy safely and efficiently to where it is needed requires a modern and highly interconnected system. Energy infrastructure is delivering opportunity across America, and manufacturers cannot afford to delay progress on new projects. Investments to enhance our energy infrastructure to improve safety, efficiency, affordability, reliability and security are placed in jeopardy when FERC seats are left empty. Robust energy infrastructure creates jobs, improves safety and spurs domestic investment.

“Restoring a full suite of commissioners at FERC is a critical step toward a stronger future, and we ask that you do so as quickly as possible. With each passing day that key independent agencies like FERC have leadership vacancies, manufacturers in the United States are missing out on new business opportunities to the detriment of local economies and American jobs. I urge you to move forward.

“Manufacturers support the swift confirmation of Mr. Bernard L. McNamee to enable the Commission to carry out decisions that support U.S. manufacturers. The nominee is a proven leader with the necessary experience and policy insights to help strengthen American energy infrastructure.”

Click here to read the letter in full.

Engineers say “GO!”

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

It’s that time of year when many of us embark on the American tradition of piling the family into the car with an assortment of snacks and suitcases. For some families, the destination is the cool mountains; for others, a sunny beach. But far too often we quickly find ourselves parked on the highway wondering why our roads seem more like parking lots.

That frustration increases when state or local governments try to eliminate bottlenecks and expand popular routes—only to be blocked by the traffic jam of federal government permitting. Most people understand that funding is hard to come by, but most people don’t realize that the Clean Water Act (CWA) can cause permitting delays and even block projects. While the law was intended to protect our critical water resources, years of lawsuits and bureaucratic overreach have twisted the law into a giant federal stop sign.

We have been working to fix this. Manufacturers’ ability to compete and grow depends on a superior infrastructure system that is second to none. When building an infrastructure project, time is the most valuable commodity, so streamlining CWA permitting is a top priority.

Manufacturers asked the courts to throw out federal overreach under the CWA. They agreed. We called on the president to restore the law and protect our waters. He agreed. We asked the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide clarity. And they got to work.

Now the Corps of Engineers is taking an important step toward the clarity we have been asking for with a new order that empowers states to play a stronger role in permitting projects. In a simple three-page memo, the Corps provides long-awaited clarity. It empowers the people of every state to take the lead.

For far too long, our nation has relied on the infrastructure we inherited from previous generations. But targeted, substantial investments in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure will create jobs, boost economic growth, save lives and help secure America’s mantle of economic leadership in the world. Manufacturers are excited about this important step in the right direction and a chance to hit the open road again.

Energy Brings Us Together

By | Economy, Energy, Environment, Policy Experts, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

As the days get shorter and the months grow colder, we are fortunate to have energy that warms our homes and gives us light to read a favorite book.

What we may forget is that domestic energy is also fueling a manufacturing renaissance. New resource production made possible by technological innovation is supporting millions of jobs, increasing household incomes, boosting trade and contributing to a new increase in U.S. competitiveness around the world. Domestic energy allows us to be productive at home and work. Relying on one-third of the energy used in the United States, manufacturing contributed $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016. Renewable sources are growing quickly and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio; our fleet of nuclear power plants cleanly and efficiently produce a substantial portion of the nation’s electricity; we have abundant supplies of coal, natural gas and oil; and advances in energy efficiency continue to save money.

Unfortunately, some people try to use energy as an issue to divide Americans. But that’s shortsighted.

Rather than picking one energy source over another, we should harness American creativity and competitiveness to drive efficiency from all energy sources. By making use of all of the United States’ domestic energy sources, we can ensure the best environmental outcomes at the lowest costs. Nuclear and fossil energy complement renewables like hydro, solar and wind and help ensure we have a diverse mix of energy resources. While solar and wind can produce varying amounts of energy, other energy is available on demand immediately and provides critical support to our renewable resources. For example, natural gas complements renewables and diversifies our energy portfolio. We are stronger together; together, we can forge long-term energy solutions.

That’s why manufacturers are watching the House Natural Resources Committee. The committee is busy marking up broad bipartisan legislation to strengthen energy policy on federal lands. H.R. 4239, the Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand American Energy Act, or the SECURE American Energy Act, reforms existing regulatory frameworks for energy development on America’s Outer Continental Shelf and the vast onshore acreage that is under federal ownership.

Although energy production has surged in recent years, the vast majority of this new activity has occurred on private lands, while exploration on federal lands has shrunk. As a result, energy production continues to be artificially limited, reducing manufacturers’ potential competitive advantage. The federal government owns approximately 640 million acres onshore, or roughly 28 percent of the land, in the United States. And with 86 percent of our offshore resources unavailable for development or analysis, America could be producing much more. To remain competitive in a global economy, we need access to all kinds of energy—and that includes sharing the riches under our seas and on federal lands.

The onshore provisions of H.R. 4239 would allow for more local control over energy plans on federal land. States that demonstrate they can effectively regulate would also receive the full 50 percent of mineral revenues, helping to fund schools and public services like local police and fire. H.R. 4239 would also stop instances of duplicative federal regulations when a state already has effective requirements. The SECURE America’s Energy Act also strengthens our access to offshore energy, opening new areas to offshore wind energy and giving more states and local communities a chance to reap the benefits of exploration.

Continuing to expand fair access to energy resources allows us to be less dependent on foreign oil and ensure America’s energy independence. Manufacturers will continue supporting measures that promote expanded access to U.S. energy resources that make manufacturers more energy secure, while driving job creation and growth. Energy is an issue that can bring us together.

Manufacturers Applaud Move to Clarify Water Protections

By | Energy, Regulations, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The Earth is often called the “blue planet” because water covers nearly three-quarters of its surface area. And even more water resources are stored beneath the crust. Consequently, it is easy to take water for granted, but manufacturers understand the importance of responsibly managing water resources and have been working to protect clean water for decades. That’s why we have been asking for a clear rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that empowers everyone to join in protecting our waters. Today’s proposal is a critical step toward fixing our nation’s water policy.

Manufacturers have demonstrated leadership by not only minimizing the environmental impacts to water supplies but also helping to ensure adequate water supplies through conservation efforts. But at the same time, the management of water resources has been fraught with conflict. U.S. federal government regulators have abused their power to regulate navigable waters and usurped the role of local communities and individual property owners. While these abusive policies have often been stopped by federal courts, the lack of fair rules creates even more uncertainty for manufacturers. Although Congress intended the Clean Water Act to protect “the primary responsibilities and rights of states to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution,” the federal government has disrupted this local-first approach and exceeded constitutional limits.

Since manufacturers rely on water for everything from growing agricultural inputs to engineering green chemistry and providing renewable power—smart water policy is critical. Conflicts over the allocation of water resources leaves manufacturers caught between contentious federal versus state or state versus state battles. This makes it difficult and at times impossible for manufacturers to plan for day-to-day activities and make long-term investment decisions.

Furthermore, regulatory uncertainty and prolonged conflicts undermine access to justice, weaken individual property rights and fail to protect critical water resources. Given the importance of water resources, manufacturers need local, state and federal water policies of cooperation rather than conflict to achieve greater transparency, adaptation and continued ecological restoration. Policies that respect individual property rights take a multisectoral approach and drive technology solutions and innovation work to strengthen our stewardship of water resources.

Manufacturers have asked the EPA for a clear rule protecting our nation’s waterways for decades. Our country can’t protect its waters without a clear rule that gives everyone a fair chance. So today’s action is welcome news. It is an important step in process of creating commonsense policy, but there’s more work to do. Manufacturers will continue to advocate a new rule that conforms to the Clean Water Act, protects our nation’s waters and provides clarity for manufacturers and landowners around the country. This will take time and cooperation, but our blue planet deserves nothing less.

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