Energy

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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President Signs Energy Efficiency Legislation into Law

Manufacturers use almost 30 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S., and in many instances it is our single largest expenditure. To continue to be competitive in a global economy we need to be more energy efficient. Yesterday the President signed into law S. 535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). The bill will loosen efficiency standards for grid-enabled water heaters, increase efficiency in government data centers and promote efficiency in commercial, residential and federal government–owned buildings. Previously in the 114th Congress, a version of the legislation, S. 128, was adopted as an amendment to a separate bill (S. 1, to approve the Keystone XL pipeline) but was vetoed by the president on February 24. The House passed a similar energy efficiency bill, H.R. 2126, in the 113th Congress by a vote of 375-36, but the Senate never acted on that measure.

The new law will establish a program called “Tenant Star” that will certify and recognize commercial building tenants for achieving high levels of energy efficiency, as well as require the General Services Administration to develop model commercial leasing provisions to encourage commercial building owners and tenants to invest in cost-effective energy and water efficiency measures. Energy efficiency and conservation offer immediate and cost-effective opportunities to reduce energy cost inputs both in the public and private sectors. Today’s commercial, public and residential buildings use almost 40 percent of the energy consumed in this country. The NAM has long supported this bi-partisan effort to strengthen the public/private partnership to support a more energy-efficient economy, while driving economic growth and private sector job creation. While this is a great first step for energy efficiency in this Congress, we hope it will not be the last.

Manufacturers are leading the way in the area of energy efficiency. Our facilities, shop floors, production, and transportation systems much more efficient than they were 10 or 20 years ago. And many of the products we make enable other sectors such as industrial, commercial, government, residential and retail to be more energy efficient as well through the use of advanced technologies and innovations pioneered by manufacturers and their supply chain. Everyone agrees that we need to be smarter about the way we use our energy resources. And manufacturers are pleased to see this Congress not allow politics to get in the way of sound energy efficiency policy.

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Timing is Everything: Why Changing the Ozone Standard Now is All Cost with Little Gain

Last week, I wrote an editorial on Inside Sources highlighting the EPA’s chronic underestimation of the economic costs of its largest regulations. The largest of these by far has been the EPA’s proposal to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone from the current level of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a point somewhere between 65 and 70 ppb. Over the past year, the NAM modeled the costs of a potential standard at 65 ppb and 60 ppb, each time concluding that the regulation would be the “most expensive regulation ever.” Recently, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before Congress that only eight counties would fail to meet a new ozone standard of 70 ppb in 2025 in a business as usual scenario—in other words, if EPA simply let states and businesses comply with the 75 ppb standard set in 2008 and the dozens of other regulations on the books that will drive ozone levels lower. (continue reading…)

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Energy Efficiency Legislation Finally Heads to President’s Desk

This afternoon the House voice voted to approve S. 535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, and will send the measure to the President’s desk. The bill, which the Senate passed by voice vote in March, would loosen efficiency standards for grid-enabled water heaters, increase efficiency in government data centers and promote efficiency in commercial, residential and federal government–owned buildings. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), have introduced various iterations over the last several years. Previously in the 114th Congress a version of the legislation, S. 128, was adopted as an amendment to a separate bill (S. 1, to approve the Keystone XL pipeline) but was vetoed by the president on Feb. 24. The House passed a similar efficiency bill, H.R. 2126 in the 113th Congress, by a vote of 375-36 in March of 2014, but the Senate never acted on that measure. (continue reading…)

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Interior Looks for Comments on Drilling Fee Increase

Today, the Department of the Interior took one big step towards a change in royalty fees paid by companies who want to explore the abundant energy resources located on federal land. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a notice seeking public comment on the need for new regulations and whether the government should be allowed to raise these fees.

Currently, fees assessed by the Department of the Interior are 12.5% of the gross value of production minus allowable deductions. For some leases, this can be tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.    (continue reading…)

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FACT CHECK: EPA’s Legal Footing

“I would not recommend, and I am confident that the Administrator would not sign, a final rule that the EPA did not believe was on firm legal footing and worthy of being upheld by the federal courts. In light of that, the effect of the draft bill would be a wholly unnecessary postponement of reductions of harmful air pollution,” said Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) Acting Air Chief Janet McCabe.

The statement above was given in a congressional hearing, while under oath to members of Congress who were debating draft legislation that would restore some regulatory certainty for businesses and state governments by delaying implementation of EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation for the existing power sector until after the inevitable legal challenges are resolved. (continue reading…)

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Administration’s Climate Plan to UN a Reminder of What’s at Stake for Manufacturers

The Administration’s submission of its Climate Change Plan to the United Nations today is a reminder of the complex nature of global greenhouse gas (GHG) politics, economics and realities, and what is at stake for the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. Manufacturers want a strong international agreement that includes binding commitments from all major emitting nations.

First, as is graphically represented on Page One of the Plan, the United States is already leading the world in reducing GHG emissions. Since 2005, no country has reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than the United States—nearly 700 million tons of C02 or a reduction of close to 12 percent. U.S. manufacturers are leading the way, producing more efficient and lower emitting cars, trucks and machines; creating new and innovative products to increase the energy efficiency of houses, buildings and factors; and unlocking new technologies to generate more power with fewer emissions. Since 2005, carbon emissions from manufacturers and other industrial facilities have fallen by more than 10 percent. This progress will continue, as manufacturers are driven by a commitment to environmental sustainability and recognition that reducing emissions is good for the bottom line—more efficient factories have fewer emissions and lower costs.  (continue reading…)

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Cost Consideration: Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Michigan v. EPA

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in Michigan v. EPA, to resolve whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must consider costs when deciding whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

It’s surprising that an agency would not consider costs when deciding how to regulate. We could make cars safer by requiring that they be made like tanks. We could reduce hospital infections by requiring hazmat-style protective equipment.  But alternatives like these are usually not appropriate. It is more reasonable to approach every regulation by weighing its unique costs and benefits. (continue reading…)

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