All Posts By

Ross Eisenberg

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

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

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

Manufacturers Encouraged by Ozone Implementation Bill

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

We often say that clean air and a strong economy can go hand-in-hand. Underlying that belief is a recognition that we need the right policies in place to ensure both goals are achieved. Just five months after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its strictest ozone regulation ever, throwing hundreds of counties into noncompliance with the standard, manufacturers are encouraged to see leaders from the House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) offer legislation that would restore some much-needed flexibility to this policy.

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. Modern manufacturing has evolved into a sleek, technology-driven industry, and air quality has improved vastly as a result. But many of our environmental policies, such as the ozone rule, have failed to keep pace.

Ozone 70 Infographics (700x350) Read More

Manufacturers Hopeful Senate Energy Bill Will Move Again Soon

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The Senate’s consideration of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, has been stalled for weeks over how best to address the ongoing water challenge in Flint, Mich. Early this week, it appeared an agreement on Flint aid had been reached that would allow S. 2012 to move forward. Unfortunately, just a few hours later, the story broke that the bill is now being held up over an amendment that allows revenues from oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast to be shared by the federal government and the states where the exploration would occur. The NAM supports this amendment and would like to see it get a vote.

infographics-03 Read More

Oil Fee Proposal a Bad Deal for Manufacturers

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the Obama administration announced the details of a request in its upcoming 2017 budget proposal for a $10 fee on every barrel of oil to fund what the administration describes as “a more sustainable transportation system.” The administration is calling it a fee, but let’s be clear about what this really is: a wealth transfer that will ultimately be paid for by manufacturers at their plants and consumers at the pump.

In today’s global economy, U.S. manufacturers must be assured of an adequate supply of competitively priced oil for industrial and commercial use and for transportation fuels. We are, therefore, very concerned with yet another new policy that increases prices—and particularly a fee of this size, which would increase the price of each barrel of oil by more than 30 percent at today’s prices.‎ The American Petroleum Institute estimates that the president’s fee would cost consumers as much as 25 cents per gallon of gasoline.

Manufacturers support improvements to our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and fought hard to get the $305 billion long-term highway reauthorization successfully signed into law this past December. But the president’s oil fee budget proposal would make manufacturers less competitive.

Energy Bill, TSCA Reform Show Momentum Building for Congressional Solutions on Energy, Environment

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

This week, the Senate is debating S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, on the floor. The bill, introduced by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and passed by the committee on a decisive 18-4 vote, is expected gain broad support from both sides of the aisle. There is a lot to like in the bill, including a wide range of measures on energy efficiency and improvements to the licensing process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. The debate on S. 2012 comes on the heels of successful passage of legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by the Senate at the end of 2015. (The House passed a similar TSCA reform bill earlier in the year by a 398-1 vote, and the two bills await a conference.)

For years, Washington earned a well-deserved reputation for gridlock and an inability to solve problems. But these two bills, much like the recent successes on tax, infrastructure and trade, are a sign that the gridlock may be starting to ease. And if that’s the case, there are no shortage of energy and environmental issues that manufacturers would like some real, bipartisan solutions on. We talk about a lot of these in the our “Competing to Win” platform document, unveiled today by NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons as he kicked off this year’s State of Manufacturing Tour. Read More

Interior Reviews Coal Lease Program Leaving Manufacturers in Dust

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

Friday, the Department of Interior announced it would develop new guidelines for development of coal resources on federal lands. Included in the announcement was a moratorium on new leases of coal on these federal lands until a new environmental impact study is completed. These studies take years, and Secretary Sally Jewell said the moratorium on new leases will be in place until the study is complete.

“Manufacturers need reliable energy sources and a robust energy mix, and this new plan from the president erodes our energy future. As the leading industry in cutting climate-related emissions, we understand and face the challenge, but manufacturers need to remain competitive in today’s global economy. The American energy boom has been beneficial to manufacturers, but this action by the administration will diminish that advantage.” – Ross Eisenberg, vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers

As users of one-third of the nation’s energy, manufacturers need a robust energy strategy that looks at all forms of energy, conventional and unconventional, to ensure an affordable and reliable supply. A key to our increasing global competitiveness, in addition to continuing growth in productivity, is reliable and affordable energy. Coal still provides nearly 40 percent of our electricity and gives manufacturers an advantage in a local economy. Also concerning in this announcement is the failure to examine the costs to manufacturing and the millions of supply-chain jobs directly and indirectly impacted by such a sweeping action. Read More

Obama Denies Keystone XL Pipeline, Choosing Politics Over Policy

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

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.31.44 PMLast Friday, President Obama announced his decision to deny TransCanada Corporation its permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.

Not only did the President disappoint manufacturers across the country, but he also made a historic mistake. After seven years of waiting for a decision on this permit application, this decision is a clear signal that the United States isn’t open for business for everyone. It also undermines the existing permitting process—one that is supposed to set clear rules of the road for companies to meet to secure approval. The Administration continually raised the bar for approval of Keystone XL, and every time TransCanada met (or exceeded) it, the Administration raised it again. Read More

Clean Power Plan Poses Great Challenges for Manufacturers

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Manufacturers have long demonstrated their commitment to environmental sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since 2005, manufacturers’ annual GHG emissions have fallen by more than 10 percent while our value added to the economy has increased by 26 percent. We are producing more, while emitting less. In addition, manufacturers’ technological innovations and ingenuity have been integral in U.S. annual emissions falling by 700 million tons since 2005, which is a reduction greater than any other nation in the world.
Read More

Arctic Lease Cancellation a Cruel Blow to Innovation

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Late Friday afternoon, a time particularly convenient for the announcement of unpopular decisions, the Department of the Interior announced it would cancel oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic and not renew existing leases to Shell or Statoil. The move effectively closes the door to oil and gas exploration in these resource-rich areas.

The immediate sting comes from broken promises, as the Administration has done a full 180 on its prior commitment to develop oil and gas on American soil. But the longer-term pain may come from the stifling impact these new barriers will have on innovation.

The Administration made development of Shell’s existing lease as difficult as humanly possible, and Shell stepped up and was able to drill its wells while keeping the environment safe. The new technologies, processes and techniques developed during the Arctic exploration will be used ‎throughout Shell’s operations around the world to make those wells safer.

That’s how innovation happens: you have to do it and learn from it. Yet, today, it became clear that the Administration would prefer oil and gas exploration not be done at all. It’s become an all-too-familiar theme across energy-producing sectors. And it’s the wrong decision every time.

Friday’s announcement spells danger for development promised by the President off the Atlantic coast and for the 2017-22 leasing plan. It could signal trouble for energy export terminals and that still-yet-to-be-approved pipeline from Canada to the United States you may have heard about once or twice.

Manufacturers hope this Administration or a future one wi‎ll come to see the error made today and reverse course. And we continue to call on this Administration to remove barriers to the development of energy, instead of erecting new ones.