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Ross Eisenberg

President-Elect Trump Acknowledges Energy Infrastructure Powers Our Lives

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

 

In the latest sign that President-elect Trump remains committed making the investments needed to improve the nation’s infrastructure, this week he signaled his support for the Dakota Access pipeline.

As we have previously noted, the NAM supports the $3.8 billion pipeline project, which is more than 90 percent completed and awaiting a final easement approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A final easement for the project has been withheld by the Obama Administration, delaying the project’s completion.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven released a statement applauding the news. He said, in part, that “It is important to know that the new administration will work to help us grow and diversify our energy economy and build the energy infrastructure necessary to move it from where it is produced to where it is needed. The result will be more jobs, a more vibrant economy and affordable energy for the American people.”

The NAM is pleased that the new administration continues to provide early evidence they are behind energy development and construction of private-investment projects like the Dakota Access pipeline.

Americans rely on energy infrastructure to safely transport the energy that powers our lives daily. This includes to our homes, communities and businesses but also supports industries key like manufacturing. And while manufacturers have benefited greatly over the last few years from access to affordable energy, we need to further invest in infrastructure projects that will help us deliver quality goods to our customers.

In a letter sent shortly after the election to the President-elect, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons talked about the need to invest in infrastructure and applauded the administration’s commitment to it. Mr. Timmons wrote, in part, that we have “a tremendous opportunity before us to rebuild our infrastructure, spur economic growth and accelerate job creation as a result. I look forward to continuing to work closely with you, your transition team and your administration to put a serious, bold plan into action.”

NAM Supports New Administration’s Infrastructure Promise in Building to Win

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

On his list of Putting America First, President-Elect Trump has prioritized rebuilding America’s infrastructure.  From roads and bridges to pipelines and ports, America has an opportunity to come together to rebuild the nation and grow the economy through these critical investments.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons recognized the President-Elect’s strong commitment to making policies that will jumpstart our economy and highlighted this in a letter to the incoming president saying:

“You outlined during the campaign and made very clear in your victory speech that we have a tremendous opportunity before us to rebuild our infrastructure, spur economic growth and accelerate job creation as a result. I look forward to continuing to work closely with you, your transition team and your administration to put a serious, bold plan into action.”

The letter highlights the NAM’s latest initiative called Building to Win. The hallmark of this effort is a comprehensive blueprint that recommends policy solutions to some of the nation’s greatest infrastructure challenges and also highlights some funding and financing options to make the investments American workers and businesses need.

America’s aging infrastructure is one of the greatest obstacles challenging the nation. The lack of modernization is a threat to security, safety, and growth throughout our communities. For instance, aging pipelines and bottlenecks in energy transportation deny families fair access to affordable, reliable energy. However, by creating, developing and maintaining the pipeline network communities deserve, Americans are able to lower their energy costs and allocate those resources toward other needs.

Fair access to energy isn’t the only reason action is required. NAM’s Building to Win blueprint also advocates for a more streamlined and transparent regulatory process for infrastructure projects. Action is needed if the United States is to save itself from the cumbersome regulatory process that surrounds infrastructure projects.  Currently bureaucratic red tape is slowing down the modernization that will spur economic growth through community investments, new tax revenue, and job creation.

As the NAM letter to the President-elect states: “We believe that a strong bipartisan program to fix our ailing infrastructure will be a significant step to help bring our country back together.”

With the shared goal of improving America’s infrastructure, the NAM will work with Congress and the new administration to overcome our infrastructure challenges to allow the economy and our communities to continue to grow.

An Outlook on Infrastructure

By | Energy, Infrastructure, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” Donald Trump said. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”  

There’s reason to be optimistic.  The President-elect made a number of strong campaign promises to the American people, one in particular caught our attention: his commitment to a sizable increase in our country’s infrastructure investment.  Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump proposed spending up to $1 trillion during the next decade to make America’s infrastructure “second to none” and even repeated the promise earlier this month in his victory speech. Members of Congress have also shown a willingness to prioritize America’s infrastructure – in ways that bring greater economic returns than the stimulus plan six years ago.

This commitment is shared by manufacturers across the country.  The NAM’s Building to Win blueprint for the new Administration and Congress estimates that addressing our ten-year funding gap will cost more than one trillion dollars.  Additionally, the new Administration and Congress must improve regulatory and fiscal policies to incentivize increased levels of private investment in modernizing water and energy pipelines, railways and electricity systems. Read More

Manufacturers Deeply Disappointed with Offshore Energy Leasing Ban

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This afternoon, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued its final plan for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for the five years between 2017 and 2022. In what can charitably be classified as “politics over policy,” BOEM effectively struck the Arctic OCS from the plan—which already struck the Atlantic OCS in a prior draft—leaving only the Gulf of Mexico available for oil and gas exploration for the foreseeable future.

This was the wrong decision. The future of a strong manufacturing sector is inextricably linked to energy access. The final five-year plan ignores that reality and slams the door on promising opportunities.

Over the past decade, the United States has become the largest oil and natural gas producer in the world, benefitting consumers across the country. New technologies to produce oil and gas are fueling a manufacturing comeback, particularly in energy-intensive sectors, which use these fuels for energy and as feedstock for a wide range of industrial and consumer products.

Our energy renaissance has put millions of Americans to work and created countless new opportunities for manufacturers. Developing additional oil and natural gas resources will create jobs, grow our economy, and increase American energy security. As the innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs and disruptors who are improving lives and transforming the world, look forward to working with the next President to fix this misguided five-year plan.

Time to Move Forward on Critical Energy Infrastructure Project

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President Obama’s announcement that his administration was looking into possible “re-routes” for the Dakota Access Pipeline is a deeply troubling, unprecedented step not just for this pipeline project but for all future American infrastructure projects. No private company would spend the resources necessary to build a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project if there was a real risk that the federal government would halt or re-route their project once it was already more than 70 percent completed and approved by five governmental agenciesboth state and federal.

Last month, the National Association of Manufacturers, along with 21 groups, wrote a letter to the administration expressing concern over continued delays to finalizing the Dakota Access Pipeline. We believe that indecision from the Obama administration has contributed to the lawlessness of the protest in North Dakota and created an unsafe and uncertain environment for the future of infrastructure development.

The administration should fix this mess by issuing the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and hold to existing precedent regarding multibillion-dollar private infrastructure projects.

Federal Court Rules the EPA Must Consider Job Losses from Its Regs

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This afternoon, Judge John Preston Bailey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unlawfully ignored its duty under Section 321 of the Clean Air Act to evaluate potential and actual job loss from its regulations. The agency has rolled out tens of billions of dollars worth of new air regulations on electric utilities, energy producers, manufacturers, vehicles and other sources and readily admits it had not done a single one of these mandatory job loss evaluations before finalizing any of those regulations.

The purpose of requirements like Section 321 is to get better regulations, the kind that achieve their environmental goals while preserving a strong economy. And while the EPA made this promise virtually every time it issued a new regulation, the facts show that it never even bothered to do a Section 321 analysis any of those times. The court gave the EPA two weeks to do a Section 321 job loss analysis for the coal industry, which has faced a regulatory burden heavier than perhaps any other sector over the past decade.

Manufacturers are pleased to see that the EPA will now have to properly evaluate the impact of its regulations on jobs. ‎We are disappointed that this order comes years after the regulations at issue went final and at a time when the companies regulated have already started complying. We hope the EPA will comply with the law and routinely do job loss studies for each of its major new regulations before they are proposed, to ensure a better regulatory process.

Manufacturers Hope Reason Will Prevail in Latest Pipeline Battle

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

A few months ago, I testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the importance of pipeline infrastructure to manufacturers. What struck me the most about this hearing is that, on an issue that has been so filled with partisanship and vitriol in recent years—see Keystone XL—every single member of the committee that day rose above the talking points and had a thoughtful, productive conversation about the opportunities and challenges confronting new pipelines. There were different points of view on how best to balance economic growth, energy security and public health and safety. However, every member of that panel recognized that, yes, we are going to need more pipelines to meet changing domestic supply and demand for energy.

That’s why I’m shaking my head today as I watch the same tired script unfold over the latest pipeline to begin construction, the Dakota Access Pipeline. Dakota Access will bring crude oil developed in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. The project enjoys the support of a wide range of labor unions, chambers of commerce, agricultural groups and economic development authorities. The project’s sponsors ran the gauntlet and secured every federal, state and local permit needed to begin construction; however, just as construction commenced, the lawsuits began, protests got heated, and now we’re rapidly moving toward another round of political theater over a pipeline project.

Manufacturers support the Dakota Access Pipeline. Dakota Access ensures long-term access to competitively priced oil for industrial uses and as an input good for many manufactured goods, such as petrochemicals, to process gas and transportation fuels and to power operations. Manufacturers also make up the supply chain for the project: between 32 and 37 percent of the cost of constructing an oil pipeline is directly for manufacturing inputs. The major types of manufactured goods used include equipment, line pipe, fittings, coatings and booster stations, including pumps. A report written by IHS Economics for the National Association of Manufacturers in early 2016 estimates that at least 66 different manufacturing subsectors (out of 86 total) benefited from the construction of crude oil pipelines by $10 million or more in 2015. Overall, construction and operation of crude oil pipelines will have meant $7.6 billion to manufacturing in 2015 and 2016 and led to the creation of 28,438 manufacturing jobs in 2016.

 

CrudeInfo

There will always be protesters, and there will always be critics. It wouldn’t be America if there weren’t. Heck, I know a guy who once created a Twitter handle just so he could criticize the TV broadcast of the U.S. Open.

Ultimately, though, it’s the job of the regulators to listen to all the points in support and against and render a decision. That’s what happened here. North Dakota signed off. So did South Dakota. And Iowa. And Illinois. And the Army Corps of Engineers. The government got this one right; now it’s time to start building.

Delays in construction cause idled assembly lines, breached contracts and a domino effect that ripples up and down supply chains, injuring manufacturers every step of the way. We can’t let this happen. Here’s hoping that, much like that day in the Senate a few months ago, we can rise above the politics and let reason prevail.

DNC Energy Platform Long on Commands, Short on Hope

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The most important sentence on energy in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) platform document is the one it took out: this version of the platform no longer supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

Coal is out. Nuclear energy and hydropower aren’t even mentioned once in the platform. This version seeks to pick winners and losers in the energy space and remake the energy mix the way the DNC platform committee sees fit, regardless of what the market wants.

You know why that’s a bad idea? Because just about every time the government tries to pick winners and losers in the energy space, the government gets it wrong—like really, really wrong.

Eight years ago, we were told that coal would be the dominant electricity source for the next 50 years, that we would hit peak oil and gas and need to build new natural gas import terminals, that a renaissance of new nuclear power plants was upon us and that the vehicle fleet would transition to biofuels. Policies were put into place to adjust to those projections. Fast-forward to today, and just about every one of those predictions has been proven wrong. The one thing the government just couldn’t predict was the pace of innovation. And innovate we did: hydraulic fracturing unlocked hundreds of years’ worth of oil and gas supplies right here in the United States, renewable energy and energy-efficient products and solutions are getting cheaper by the day, the vehicle fleet is getting more efficient and electric vehicles are gaining market share, we are about to become net exporters of oil and gas, and advanced coal and nuclear technologies are getting closer to market.

Point being: a commitment to letting the market decide what energy technologies win or lose got us where we are now. And where we are now is a position of energy strength.

Take natural gas. Manufacturers have historically had an outsized reliance on natural gas. Unlike residential consumers, whose main interactions with natural gas are at the power plant and through their stoves and furnaces, manufacturers rely on natural gas for a wide range of direct and indirect uses. Manufacturers use natural gas as a fuel for direct process uses, such as drying, melting, process cooling, machine drive and refrigeration; as a fuel for direct nonprocess uses in manufacturing establishments, such as heating, ventilation, HVAC and lighting; as a fuel for indirect purposes, such as boilers used to produce electricity and steam; and as a feedstock in refining, chemicals and primary metals sectors. Domestic natural gas has transformed the U.S. economy, made our companies more competitive, created jobs and put money back in the pockets of working Americans.

Over the next decade, total demand for natural gas will increase by 40 percent. Key drivers will be power generation and manufacturing: the chemical industry alone plans to invest in 264 new projects representing $164 billion in capital investment in the United States thanks to natural gas. U.S. supply of natural gas will grow by 48 percent, more than enough to meet growing demand.

Yet, the DNC platform document wants to make it significantly harder to access this energy. It wants to stop energy exploration off the coasts, phase it down on public lands and send the Department of Justice after fossil fuel companies. All of that will make it substantially harder for manufacturers to access the energy that we need to stay competitive.

The DNC platform committee knows as much about the next eight years of our energy future as it did back in 2008. Case in point: the 2008 platform document claimed, “We know we can’t drill our way to energy independence.” Turns out we actually can, and for the most part, have.

The one thing the platform seems to ignore is innovation. Without innovation—without hope—we’re not going to solve any of our environmental challenges and take advantage of new energy opportunities.

Environmental Impact Statement Released for Washington State Export Terminal

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

On Friday, Cowlitz County, Wash., and the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview, a planned export terminal for coal and other bulk commodities along the Columbia River in Cowlitz County. Today’s EIS was produced by the state and county under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which is essentially Washington’s version of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the federal environmental policy statute that requires environmental impact analysis of major federal actions affecting the environment. Disputes over the scope of the EIS for this terminal among Cowlitz County, WDOE and the Army Corps of Engineers has led to the production of dual EIS analyses: one produced by the Army Corps, which analyzes site-specific impacts as is traditional practice, and today’s SEPA analysis, which broadens the scope dramatically to include cumulative, lifecycle impacts not only of the terminal but the commodities being shipped through that terminal. It’s an unusual practice to say the least and has had manufacturers concerned for a long time, given the potential precedent that could be set for all exports of manufactured goods.

We’re just now digging into the hundreds (thousands?) of pages making up the SEPA analysis. One area that immediately gives us concern is how the WDOE and Cowlitz County evaluate the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of the facility and the mitigation measures recommended. This is largely uncharted territory from both a legal and policy standpoint, and one that could have a significant impact on similar analyses in Washington and other states. Manufacturers depend heavily on exports, and conditions placed on one exported product could cascade to other products as well. If those conditions get in the way of trade or unduly delay exports, it could also violate U.S. international treaty obligations under World Trade Organization agreements.

A 45-day comment period is now underway for the Millennium Bulk EIS; comments can be submitted here.

Senate Ozone Implementation Bill Encouraging Development for Manufacturers

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Manufacturers were encouraged by today’s introduction by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) of the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016, a bill that would provide some much-needed relief and flexibility to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 final ozone rule. The Capito-Flake Ozone Implementation Bill is similar to the NAM-supported H.R. 4775 in the House, introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). Both bills offer a balanced approach that ensures continued air quality improvements, while giving states and manufacturers the flexibility necessary to limit some of the economic growth restrictions that exist under the current regulation.

Since 1980, ozone levels are down nationwide more than 30 percent—and down nearly 20 percent in just the past decade. With new investments coming online utilizing the best and cleanest technologies available, these trends will continue. Unfortunately, while modern manufacturing has evolved into a sleek, technology-driven industry, and air quality has improved vastly, many of our environmental policies, such as the ozone rule, have failed to keep pace. Read More