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Energy

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.

Five Facts about How Energy Connects Us

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

From Keystone XL to the most recent Dakota Access, debates over pipelines seem to have sprung up overnight. The pipes that connect us and deliver opportunity used to unite us, but lately the political agenda of a relative few has caused a riff. At a time when our country needs to come together more than ever, it’s dangerous is that much of the debate ignores the facts. Read More

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.

Litigation Over the Clean Power Plan: The Big Picture

By | Energy, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The entire bench of the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia is hearing nearly four hours of arguments tomorrow in 39 lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan regulation. The challengers represent a broad swath of industries, including mining, transportation, electric utilities, manufacturers and consumers of energy, as well as 27 states.

The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, joined by a manufacturing coalition of more than a dozen other national trade groups, is involved in this case because we are very concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed a set of regulations on electric utility companies that is not authorized by, and contradicts specific provisions of, the Clean Air Act. The rule’s goal is to restructure the power sector by imposing emissions limits that are unachievable without switching fuel inputs. This could undermine the reliability of the electric grid and cause higher energy rates for consumers, including manufacturers in the United States. A ruling in favor of the rule would set the EPA up to impose greenhouse gas regulations on many other sectors of manufacturing.

This case has all the earmarks of a major case that will wind up in the Supreme Court, probably in the fall of 2017. Normally only three judges would hear this first round of arguments, but the appellate court decided to go straight to the full panel of 10 (not counting Chief Judge Garland, who is not participating). This unusual step signals that the judges consider this case extraordinary, and the court has set aside its largest courtroom and two overflow rooms for the large anticipated attendance from litigants and the public.

This regulation is of existential importance for certain sectors and will put substantial upward pressure on energy costs for many manufacturers and other consumers. But beyond raising legal issues of statutory construction, administrative procedure and constitutional compliance, the Clean Power Plan is a prototype for the kind of regulation that tests the limits of the executive branch. Whoever wins the upcoming election, the next administration will have to live within the contours of decisions like the one in this case. The power to regulate comes from the Constitution and the laws enacted in compliance with it, and the courts stand as the final judge on how far that authority goes.

Politics’ Corrosive Effect on Jobs Has Gone Too Far

By | Economy, Energy, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Lost in the news about today’s jobs numbers is politics’ corrosive effect on future labor reports and our nation’s standing in the world. Actions and debates underway in America today are erecting walls to long-term prosperity for millions of manufacturers. It’s wrong that this administration’s policies have caused health care costs to skyrocket, while policymakers use red tape to regulate many manufacturers out of business.

It’s unfortunate that critical energy infrastructure projects, such as the Dakota Access pipeline, are threatened, resulting in less energy independence and slower job growth. And it’s a failure of leadership when those seeking to serve us in elected office attack the very reasons we’re great, such as global trade and our free enterprise system.

Manufacturers—and all Americans—are looking for more than what we see on the campaign trail and by this administration. As we pause to celebrate Labor Day and the achievements of workers that made this country exceptional, policymakers should be reminded that we won’t settle for mediocrity. Americans deserve and expect leaders to partner with us to compete and win every day.

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.

Good News in Case Against “Legal Fraud of the Century”

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

There’s some good news today from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Chevron’s long-running battle over a court ruling in Ecuador that was obtained through a fraudulent scheme. The court affirmed the lower court’s decision, ruling that Chevron does not have to pay billions of dollars in damages because the original verdict was the product of fraud and racketeering activity.

If you’re a regular Shopfloor reader, you will recall many of the details of this case against Chevron, which has been referred to as the legal fraud of the century.” You can read more about the Second Circuit’s verdict and the long, drawn-out court battle here.

The case involves an American plaintiffs’ lawyer drumming up a lawsuit against Chevron for environmental damage in Ecuador, even though Chevron has never operated in Ecuador. As the case unraveled in a very public battle, it turned into a saga of fabricated evidence, intimidation and bribery—or unscrupulous lawyers and corrupt government officials conspiring to make billions they did not deserve.

In short, this case is a reminder that bad actors do try to pervert the justice system for their own financial gain—and that we must remain vigilant against such fraud and corruption. The Second Circuit’s ruling is a victory for Chevron and the people they employ, but more importantly for the rule of the law.

Court Ruling Pushes EPA Toward More Regulation

By | Energy, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Government agencies have a tremendous advantage when it comes to defending new regulations in court. Judges start with a legal presumption that not only gives the benefit of the doubt to the agency, but sets a very high bar for reversing rules that most people might not have issued. As long as an agency’s rules are authorized by statute and not clearly erroneous or otherwise an abuse of discretion, courts will accept them.

That’s what the D.C. Circuit did today when it largely upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules on boilers and incinerators. All of the challenges to the rules by the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action and other business organizations were rejected by the appellate court. The court upheld one EPA requirement that could not be met by any small, remote incinerator or heavy oil-fired boiler in use today. It similarly rejected industry complaints about new energy assessment and recordkeeping requirements, as well as concerns about compliance with the rules when equipment malfunctions despite full compliance with regulations and due diligence by operators.

What is unusual is that the court agreed with several arguments made by environmental groups. It ordered the EPA to issue a regulation for cyclonic burn barrels and to decide whether certain other incinerators must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The court also ordered the agency to provide further explanations about the decisions it made not to regulate emissions of a certain hazardous pollutant (non-dioxin/furan organic pollutant), about why certain exemptions should be allowed and about why it declined to regulate certain non-mercury emissions.

The bottom line is the court upheld all of the EPA’s regulations and ordered the agency to cover even more than it did, or at least give a full explanation of why it won’t.