Energy

Mayors Seek Balance from Federal Regulations

What happens when your city or town cannot comply with federal environmental regulations? How does it limit job growth? What about economic development?

This past weekend, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) hosted a panel at the U.S. Conference of Mayors about balancing economic development and the growing federal environmental regulations. This panel explored the impact of federal regulations such as the proposed ozone regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (continue reading…)

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House Approved TSCA Modernization Act

The House of Representatives took a bold step today, approving H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015, by a vote of 398-1.

Our current laws don’t reflect modern realities.  When Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was written we were still listening to 8-track tapes and the internet hadn’t been invented.  It’s been nearly four decades, and it’s time for an update. (continue reading…)

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Recognized Sustainability Leader Ecolab Releases Annual Report

This week Ecolab released its 2014 Corporate Sustainability Report highlighting the company’s commitment to making the world cleaner, safer and healthier while protecting people and vital resources. A world renowned company in promoting sustainability, in 2014 alone, Ecolab was named to the FTSE4Good Index, The Civic 50, CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens, Newsweek’s Green Rankings and Ethisphere Institute’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. (continue reading…)

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Government Scientists Warn of Peril for Manufacturers with New Ozone Rules

In a commentary published in the journal Science today, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists found that reliable data on ozone levels, especially in the Intermountain West, is elusive because of background levels of ground-level ozone.  Accordingly, compliance with existing standards is complicated and bound to get more complicated – if not impossible. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers Talk TSCA During Fly-In

This week over 400 manufacturers from around the country representing small, medium and large manufacturers came to Capitol Hill urging action on key policy issues such as chemical reform and environmental regulations. And with chemical reform, manufacturers’ voices are being heard.  (continue reading…)

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EPA Study Assesses Hydraulic Fracturing: Key to American Energy Resources

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a much anticipated study looking at the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. As concluded by the EPA, hydraulic fracturing, or the innovative, high-tech process used to access our vast American natural gas resources, has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” (continue reading…)

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House Testimony, Manufacturing Caucus Bookend Busy Week on Ozone

Despite the fact that it’s widely expected to be among the most costly regulations in our nation’s history – if not the most costly – the EPA’s proposal to tighten ozone standards has managed to stay somewhat below the radar in recent months.

For the manufacturers that make up our membership, this is a big problem, because the administration’s proposal threatens to badly undermine the circumstances that have helped to spur our nation’s manufacturing comeback. The impacts would be no less profound for the public at large, which would face higher energy prices, the prospect of millions of lost jobs, and well over a hundred billion dollars each year in costs. Given the stakes, we are eager to raise the profile of this critical issue. This week, we hit Capitol Hill alongside hundreds of our members to help make sure that lawmakers are listening to their constituents, and that they recognize the danger that this new rule represents.

On Wednesday, NAM and several of its member companies participated in a briefing for the House Manufacturing Caucus aimed at illustrating for lawmakers the concerns harbored by businesses large and small about the new ozone standard. In that meeting, we heard from NAM members and policy experts, who told members, staff and stakeholders more about the struggles that ozone nonattainment will mean for their communities.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard from local regulators, air quality managers, and more regarding the EPA’s proposal.

And finally, on Thursday, I testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology regarding the impact of EPA regulatory overreach on American competitiveness. In my testimony, I pointed to the drain that burdensome environmental regulations are causing for American businesses especially manufacturers.

“Why does this proposed ozone regulation matter? Because nonattainment is a significant barrier to growth. Nonattainment is a significant deterrent to manufacturers to build or expand in an area because the permits are so difficult to obtain compared to those in an attainment area. Companies building or expanding facilities in nonattainment areas are required to install specific technologies regardless of cost, and projects cannot move forward unless ozone is reduced from other sources.

These “offsets” are neither cheap nor easy to obtain. Currently, offset prices in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria nonattainment area are close to $175,000 per ton of NOx and $275,000 per ton of VOC. Offset prices in southern California nonattainment areas are approaching $125,000 per ton of NOx. Rural areas, which could become new nonattainment areas under a tighter standard, may lack offsets altogether, making the offset requirement a total barrier to new projects.

“Even manufacturers not looking to expand will be subject to restrictive new regulations in nonattainment areas. For instance, in the Houston nonattainment area, existing facilities are subject to additional controls under the Highly Reactive VOC (HRVOC) rule, and combustion units, such as boilers and ethylene crackers, must install SCRs and low-NOx burners. In the most severe cases, states with nonattainment areas could lose federal highway and transit funding.”

The surge of attention paid to this issue over the course of the last few days is encouraging. It means that leaders and newsmakers inside the Beltway are picking up on the chorus of concern growing at the state and local level, not just from our members and others the business community, but from local regulators, mayors, and countless others that are staring down the barrel of this rule.

But despite a productive week, we have a long way to go. We’re less than four months out from the issuance of the costliest rule in the history of the United States – a regulation that threatens to stop the manufacturing comeback in its tracks. We – along with our members and countless other stakeholders concerned by this rule – will continue our work to highlight the importance a stable regulatory environment to our nation’s economic outlook.

The stakes, after all, have never been higher.

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Rep. Scalise, Sen. Capito introduce Legislation to Improve Air Permitting

Last week, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced H.R. 2557/S. 1425, the “Promoting New Manufacturing Act,” in the House and Senate. The NAM has been a longtime supporter of this bill, on which we testified and supported with a Key Vote Letter in the 113th Congress.

The Promoting New Manufacturing Act would make a series of relatively simple enhancements to the air permitting process to enable manufacturers to get their permits quicker while allowing the EPA to continue to protect the environment. It would create a permitting dashboard, requiring EPA to publish information on the regarding the estimated number of permits issued annually and timelines for making final permit decisions; it would require that if the EPA Administrator establishes or revises a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), the agency publish implementing regulations and guidance at the same time, including information regarding the submittal and consideration of preconstruction permit applications; and it would require EPA to report annually to Congress on actions being undertaken by the agency to expedite the processing of permit applications. (continue reading…)

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Congress Takes Critical Step for Manufacturers on “WOTUS” Regulation

Manufacturers secured a key victory Tuesday with the passage of H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015.  A strong coalition of Democrats and Republicans voted together to stop the Administration’s sweeping new reinterpretation of federal water regulations.  By a vote of 261 to 155, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would require the EPA to withdraw its controversial water rule and work with states and stakeholders in fashioning a new rule.

Over the past year small businesses, family farmers, American manufacturers, and community leaders have repeatedly asked the EPA to detail exactly what water resources the federal government would control under the proposed rule.  However, the EPA’s failure to provide clarity has reinforced widespread concerns that the Administration’s proposed water rule represents an enormous regulatory expansion. (continue reading…)

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House Hearing Underscores Broad Impact of Ozone Rule

Wyoming has a population of about 584,000 covering 97,814 square miles. About the same number of people are crammed into Manhattan below midtown, an area that can be covered on foot over the course of a day. Where Wyoming has the Snake River Canyon, Manhattan has a river of cars snaking through canyons of skyscrapers.

It is easy to appreciate how New York City might have difficulty meeting federal ground-level ozone standard but, incredibly, there is one area in Wyoming’s vast expanse in non-compliance as well, the Upper Green River Basin. And while the area has some industrial activity, with a population of only about 10,000 people, the biggest driver of its ozone levels is geography—it is surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides. Its micro-conditions make it susceptible to having higher levels of ground-level ozone. (continue reading…)

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