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Energy

Competing for Energy Efficiency in the Manufacturing Industry

By | Energy, General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The U.S. industrial sector has been a longtime heavy energy consumer, accounting for one-third of the energy usage in the country. What’s more, the U.S. industrial sector has an annual energy bill of about $200 billion. While both of these statistics may seem startling, at Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest building materials companies and manufacturer of innovative material solutions, we believe these numbers present the opportunity for businesses to step up to the challenge to improve the energy efficiency of their manufacturing plants and facilities.

Already, more than 200 industrial partners representing close to 2,600 facilities in all 50 states have committed to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program to improve energy savings by 20 percent or more over the next 10 years. Our new President and CEO Tom Kinisky recently signed Saint-Gobain’s renewed pledge, allowing our company to further its energy-savings goals, increase the sustainability of our operations and reduce the overall carbon footprint of our manufacturing facilities.

Image by Saint-Gobain

While these pledges are nice to have, what’s most important is to consider the on-the-ground initiatives companies need to implement to help these goals become a reality. At Saint-Gobain, we believe a sense of competition among manufacturing plants and colleagues truly helps to move these goals forward. In 2016, our company’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Department established the company’s Water, Waste and Energy (WWE) Program, which was recently recognized with a U.S. Department of Energy Better Practice Award. This program encourages more than 130 Saint-Gobain manufacturing sites to compete against each other to see which facility can best reduce its environmental impact by highlighting practical and effective solutions for increasing the sustainability of sites. At the end of the program, five sites are recognized with 20-pound championship-style belts and given the titles of “Waste Champion,” “Water Champion,” “Energy Champion,” “CO2 Champion” and “Overall Champion” to recognize their commitment to on-the-ground, effective energy-reduction solutions.

Image by Saint-Gobain

Through this program and by competing against their peers, Saint-Gobain manufacturing facilities across the country have been able to achieve substantial energy consumption reduction results. The program’s 2017 Energy Champion, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in Bristol, Rhode Island, took a systems approach to energy management resulting in a 45 percent energy intensity reduction over the past two years. The 2016 and 2017 CO2 Champion, CertainTeed Roofing in Oxford, North Carolina, invigorated its commitment to reducing energy and carbon dioxide emissions by forming a special committee of 24 members focused on working directly to reduce the site’s emissions. Through the efforts to upgrade heating elements on three of its main production lines, the plant was able to achieve a substantial reduction in natural gas usage. Additionally, this year’s Water Champion, Saint-Gobain Quartz in Riverport, Kentucky, implemented the use of a cooling tower to achieve water savings and sealed a well that had been in use for years. The well water withdrawal was reduced from 131 million gallons in 2012 to zero gallons in 2015 and 2016.

Based on these percentages and statistics, it is clear that a sense of competition helps to spur outside-the-box thinking and improvements that are able to result in an overall positive impact for the company and its facilities as well as the planet. Let’s use this learning to encourage our employees and colleagues to compete for the greater good of the planet.

More Relief for Manufacturers: EPA Grants Flexibility on Ozone Regulations

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

This afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed governors that the agency will grant states an additional year for initial compliance designations under the 2015 ozone standard. This is welcome regulatory relief for manufacturers, who are working hard to comply with the 2008 and 2015 ozone standards but run the risk of falling into no-grow zonesif their states do not reach the 2015 levels quickly enough.

The 2015 ozone regulation could be one of the most expensive regulations ever issued by the U.S. government. The 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb)—the most stringent standard ever—was never even fully implemented, while emissions are as low as they have been in decades and air quality continues to improve. The EPA itself admitted that implementation of the previous standard of 75 ppb, when combined with the dozens of other regulations on the books that will reduce ozone precursor emissions from stationary and mobile sources, will drive ozone reductions below 75 ppb (and close to 70 ppb, the current standard set in 2015) by 2025.

Throughout the 2015 ozone rulemaking, hundreds of governors, mayors, local development officials, manufacturers and other leaders warned the EPA that they could not comply with a tighter standard under the strict timelines the EPA requires. Air quality officials from cities and states across the country have testified before Congress that they may run out of controls before they even reach the levels mandated by the EPA. Manufacturers appreciate that the EPA is acknowledging this very real problem.

The EPA also announced it would continue to look into three issues the NAM raised in its comments on the 2015 rule and in subsequent requests to the agency: (1) how the EPA calculates background ozone; (2) the impact of emissions from outside the United States on local ozone levels; and (3) timely consideration of exceptional events designations. Fixing these issues will go a long way toward more flexibility for manufacturers as they continue to reduce their emissions.

Keystone XL Is Back—Here’s What You Need to Know

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This Wednesday, the town of York, Nebraska (pop. 7,957) will play host to a public hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline where anyone with an opinion on the project can provide three to five minutes of public comment. That’s right…the most hotly debated energy project of the past decade is officially back. Here are the answers to your burning questions.

Didn’t President Donald Trump already greenlight this project?

Yes, but TransCanada still needs Nebraska to approve the portion of the route going through the state.

On January 24, 2017, President Trump issued an executive memorandum inviting TransCanada to resubmit its application for a presidential permit to construct and operate Keystone XL, directing the secretary of state to make a decision on the presidential permit within 60 days and directing the departments of the Army and the Interior to take all steps to review and approve any outstanding requests for approvals under their jurisdiction pertaining to Keystone XL. The State Department issued the presidential permit for Keystone XL on March 24, 2017.

That’s not the end of the road from a permitting standpoint. TransCanada filed an application with the Nebraska Public Service Commission in October 2015 after its previous Nebraska route approval became embroiled in a lawsuit challenging the underlying state law. Nebraska had not finished its route review when President Barack Obama rejected a federal permit for Keystone XL a month later. Now that President Trump has reversed course, Nebraska is the only state left that needs to approve the route. TransCanada refiled its application with Nebraska on February 17, 2017. Wednesday’s hearing is on this latest application.

Can I get involved if I’m not in Nebraska?

Yes. The Nebraska Public Service Commission is taking comments on its website here.

What does the NAM think?

We support Keystone XL and believe it should be approved as quickly as possible. We have long called for completion of this project and applauded President Trump’s actions to revive it in January. Pipelines are an efficient, safe way to transport energy, and every governmental entity that has looked at Keystone XL (federal and state) has concluded that it can be constructed and operated in harmony with the environment around it.

The energy landscape is changing for the better. We are using our resources in a cleaner and more efficient way, and we are becoming more energy independent as we develop a wide range of fuels and technologies right here on American soil. Manufacturers are parlaying this energy abundance into new and expanded facilities across the country. It’s an exciting time.

Pipeline infrastructure like Keystone XL is a much-needed conduit between domestically produced energy and the consumers who depend on it. Manufacturers benefit not only from the energy transported through the pipeline but also from the construction of it: between 32 and 37 percent of the cost of constructing a 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 recent NAM study found 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. These include iron and steel, fabricated metals, cement, machinery and paints and coatings.

So what happens next for Keystone XL?

You can see a timeline for the Nebraska permit here. Over the next few months, there will be rolling public hearings along the pipeline route. Then there will be five glorious days of public hearings from August 7 to 11 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The commission expects to issue a final order by September 14.

Department of Energy Approves Golden Pass LNG Project

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a license to Golden Pass LNG to construct and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Sabine Pass, Texas, on a site adjacent to the company’s existing LNG import terminal. The DOE authorized Golden Pass to export up to 2.21 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) of natural gas to any country not covered by a free trade agreement and not otherwise prohibited by U.S. law or policy. A copy of the DOE’s order can be found here, and background on the Golden Pass project can be found here. Read More

Energy Revolution Powers Exxon Job Announcement

By | Energy, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Great news out of Houston today. Exxon Mobil Corporation announced it will be investing in manufacturing jobs in Texas and Louisiana—to the tune of $20 billion over 10 years. This announcement is important because it demonstrates the connection between domestic energy production and manufacturing. These investments will lead to the creation of thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and it’s all made possible thanks to the domestic energy revolution.

Manufacturers depend on affordable, accessible energy to power their operations and as a raw material. Without the expanded domestic energy production of recent years, an announcement like today’s wouldn’t be possible. Across the United States, manufacturers are being empowered to expand and grow because of access to affordable energy, and America’s energy industry is boosting manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Since 2011, the National Association of Manufacturers has released a series of economic reports all showing that if the United States develops its vast energy resources, manufacturing will grow. Today’s announcement is a sign of what’s possible and a reminder that the future is bright if we continue to invest in energy development and infrastructure in the United States.

Read more about Exxon’s exciting announcement here.

Energy-Efficiency Bill Introduced in House and Senate to Promote Public–Private Partnerships

By | Energy, Environment, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Yesterday, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE) as lead sponsors, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) as original cosponsors and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the PublicPrivate Partnership Act of 2017, a bill that would encourage the increased use of energy-efficiency tools, services and products in federal facilities. Improving the energy efficiency of federal facilities is a win-win-win. It’s a win for manufacturers who make and supply the equipment; a win for taxpayers who will see their government spend less money on energy bills and directed more toward other public uses; and a win for environmental protection, as greater energy-efficiency deployment often equates to a smaller environmental footprint for buildings and other facilities. Read More

Trump EPA Should Take Hard Look at New Mining Financial Assurance Rule

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Eliminating wasteful and unnecessary regulations has been a cornerstone of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign and transition to the White House. Manufacturers are encouraged by the prospect of a more balanced regulatory approach that streamlines requirements and removes duplicative policies that do not enhance public safety or environmental protection. Read More

Experts Say Energy Innovation Strengthens Manufacturing

By | Economy, Energy, Infrastructure, Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

A recent study released by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) examined how new technology has impacted the surge of natural gas production in the United States and made U.S. manufacturing more competitive in the global marketplace. It’s great news that abundant energy resources are energizing American manufacturing. But if we don’t modernize our energy infrastructure to fully connect these resources to manufacturers, we will fall short of our full economic potential.

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Manufacturers Hopeful Pruitt Will Bring Balanced Environmental Approach

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

Manufacturers have routinely found themselves at odds with the outgoing Obama administrationeven in these last few daysbecause it continues to hammer us with regulations that lack critical balance. Just in the past two weeks, the administration seems determined to push the limits of the presidents regulatory power: a massive stream buffer regulation that effectively bans coal‎ mining, followed by a legally tenuous decision to indefinitely ban offshore oil and gas leasing in Alaska and the Atlantic and lastly a chemical storage regulation that imposes major costs but would not actually solve the problem (a Texas fertilizer plant explosion) it was designed to prevent. When these are layered on top of massive, billion-dollar regulations like the Clean Power Plan, Waters of the United States, ozone, PM 2.5, Boiler MACT and Utility MACT, the picture comes clearly into focus: the Obama administration is capping eight solid years of overregulation with a final backbreaking few weeks of the worst of the worst.

‎Throughout, manufacturers have been confronted with regulations where costs greatly exceeded their benefits, a government picking winners and losers in terms of energy sources, caused mass closings of power plants in the Rust Belt and across the southern United States and forced manufacturers to divert capital to environmental compliance that should have been used instead to innovate and create new products.

Well, we are now hopeful this is about to change.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) recently cheered the announcement of Oklahoma Attorney General (AG) Scott Pruitt for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said AG Pruitt’s nomination made him “hopeful the next administration will strike the right balance between environmental stewardship and economic growth.”‎

Our Competing to Win white papers for environment and energy lay out a bold agenda for the new EPA administrator and call on that person to issue policies that protect health, safety and jobs. We call for regulations—on air, water, waste and chemicals and even greenhouse gases—but we want them to be done better and in a more balanced way. ‎

We are confident AG Pruitt will bring balance to the EPA regulatory agenda. Manufacturers have stood side-by-side with AG Pruitt as we challenged the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, Waters of the United States regulation and 2015 ozone standard. In all three cases, manufacturers asked for regulations we could live with—and when we didn’t get them, we were forced to sue. AG Pruitt did the same for the citizens of Oklahoma.

We encourage the Senate to move swiftly in confirming his nomination so this important agenda can begin on day one.

The environment has improved dramatically over the past 40 years. And we believe the EPA plays an important role in preserving the environment by supporting clear, smart regulations that encourage responsible use of our natural resources while keeping energy prices low—not at the cost of the economy, like we have seen over the past eight years.

It’s a winwin for manufacturers and the communities they support. We look forward to working with AG Pruitt on day one to achieve this.

 

Manufacturers Look to New Administration for Relief from Latest EPA Midnight Regulation

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

On December  21, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final update to the Risk Management Program, a regulation that deals with on-site storage of chemicals at manufacturing facilities. Manufacturers support measures that ensure chemicals are stored safely. However, todays update would add burdensome and often duplicative requirements on manufacturers, including new compliance hurdles that will disproportionately hurt small rural businesses, while doing little, if anything, to improve safety.  Read More