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NAM Backs FERC Nominee McNamee Ahead of Confirmation Hearing

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Today the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is considering the nomination of Bernard McNamee to serve as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a key independent federal agency that regulates energy infrastructure. With leadership vacancies on the commission causing manufacturers in the United States to miss out on new opportunities to create jobs and grow their business, the NAM sent a letter ahead of the hearing to Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urging the committee to back McNamee’s nomination. The letter from NAM Vice President for Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg reads in part:

“The FERC plays a critical role in ensuring Americans can count on the best energy infrastructure in the world. Moving energy safely and efficiently to where it is needed requires a modern and highly interconnected system. Energy infrastructure is delivering opportunity across America, and manufacturers cannot afford to delay progress on new projects. Investments to enhance our energy infrastructure to improve safety, efficiency, affordability, reliability and security are placed in jeopardy when FERC seats are left empty. Robust energy infrastructure creates jobs, improves safety and spurs domestic investment.

“Restoring a full suite of commissioners at FERC is a critical step toward a stronger future, and we ask that you do so as quickly as possible. With each passing day that key independent agencies like FERC have leadership vacancies, manufacturers in the United States are missing out on new business opportunities – to the detriment of local economies and American jobs. I urge you to move forward.

“Manufacturers support the swift confirmation of Mr. Bernard L. McNamee to enable the Commission to carry out decisions that support U.S. manufacturers. The nominee is a proven leader with the necessary experience and policy insights to help strengthen American energy infrastructure.”

Click here to read the letter in full.

Volvo Commits to Sustainability by Reducing Energy Usage

By | General, Sustainability | No Comments

At the Volvo Group, we are committed to sustainability. It is our ambition to be part of the solution to improving how our products and operations impact the environment. We follow the triple bottom line – People, Planet, Profit – framework to ensure we “walk the talk” when it comes to our core value of “environmental care.” Practically, this means that we focus our efforts strategically in three key areas:

  • Production
  • Partnerships
  • Products

Production: Energy-efficient, renewable, landfill-free

Three of our largest operations, which make up greater than 85 percent of the energy footprint among our facilities in the U.S., are certified (Platinum) ISO 50001 Energy Management System/Superior Energy Performance. Through these programs and our participation in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings, Better Plants initiative, we’ve reduced energy consumption at our factories by 25 percent, five years ahead of our original target. We’re now more than halfway to achieving our new goal of 25 percent more in energy savings by 2024.

And while actions like these at the site and corporate level have a large impact, many new energy-saving ideas actually come from our employees. The Volvo Group partners with the DOE to conduct energy “treasure hunts,” in which employee teams observe their facilities during idle or partially idle periods (e.g., weekends, evenings, etc.) to identify energy waste. Events in 2017 at Volvo Group truck manufacturing plants in Virginia and Pennsylvania identified approximately $700,000 in low-cost or no-cost energy efficiency opportunities. An additional treasure hunt at our bus service center in New Jersey uncovered $12,000 in potential savings opportunities, which was equivalent to 34 percent of the utility expenditures.

Renewable energy is also playing a part in our commitment to environmental sustainability. For example, the Volvo Group partnered with ConEdison Solutions and Entropy Solar Integrators to design and install a parking lot solar canopy – among the largest on the U.S. East Coast – at our Hagerstown, Maryland, powertrain manufacturing facility. Covering the plant’s entire north parking lot, the 5,000-panel solar canopy produces 1.3 megawatts of electricity, which is delivered to the facility to help offset the plant’s electrical demand. Because solar panels emit zero emissions, energy produced by the solar canopy is equivalent to eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 236 average passenger vehicles.

We created the Volvo Energy Network of North America (VENNA), a network of individuals who drive energy-efficiency and the transition toward renewable energy use and carbon neutrality throughout our North American operations. Through VENNA, we implemented a “learning by doing” model, which allows us to share best practices with plants within the Volvo Group in North America.

Partnerships: Taking a leading role

The Volvo Group stays connected to the global conversation about environmental sustainability through participation in a number of voluntary governmental and nongovernmental programs. In addition to DOE programs, we also take part in the World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers program and the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Program. Mack Trucks, part of the Volvo Group, recently teamed up with The Nature Conservancy to bring awareness for land and water conservation to employees.

Products: Driving prosperity through transportation

The Volvo Group has a mission of driving prosperity through transport solutions, and environmental sustainability is a key part of that. We participate in a number of programs and partnerships that enable us to develop and test sustainable solutions.

Most recently, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a grant award of more than $44 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and Volvo to develop all-electric truck demonstrators in California with commercialization planned in 2020.  The Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project includes 16 partners and is a truly transformative freight facility project that will realize commercialization and market penetration of heavy-duty battery electric vehicles (HDVEV) in California and throughout North America. In addition to all electric trucks, the project will integrate non-truck battery-electric equipment, non-proprietary chargers and solar energy production equipment to facilitate zero emissions freight movement.

Through our participation in the Department of Energy (DOE) SuperTruck program, we have also developed technologies to improve the energy-efficiency of our vehicles that are currently on the market. We’re participating in SuperTruck II, developing next-generation technologies to increase the efficiency of our vehicles.

We offer alternative fuel options for many of our vehicles and several Volvo and Mack models have recently been approved for the California Air Resources Board Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project.

By Dawn Fenton, Volvo’s Director, Sustainability and Government Affairs and Rick Robinson,Volvo’s Director, Health Safety & Environment

NAM-U.S. Chamber Launch Major Six-Figure Ad Campaign Ahead of SEC Roundtable on Proxy Advisory Firms

By | General, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Next Thursday, November 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will hold a roundtable on the proxy process. This is an opportunity for the SEC to solicit input from a variety of stakeholders on whether proxy advisory firms work in the best interest of Main Street investors. The roundtable is a critical step in the review process to determine if reforms to the existing rules are necessary to protect Americans’ retirement accounts.

Ahead of the roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have launched a major initiative to educate Main Street investors in 401(k)s and pension plans on the dangers posed by proxy advisory firms. A digital and print campaign, backed by a significant six-figure investment in print and social media ads, aims to ensure that retirees and those saving for retirement have their voices heard on this serious threat to their futures.

The retirement income of millions of Americans and the performance of the public companies in which they’ve invested their savings are affected by a little-known but powerful group of firms whose influence is gaining overdue attention. Proxy advisers provide recommendations on shareholder proposals despite having little regulatory oversight, and two companies, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass-Lewis, control about 97 percent of the proxy advisory market. These firms lack oversight and can provide bad advice, based on inaccurate numbers or politically motivated agendas, that impacts your retirement savings.

It’s critical that hardworking Americans understand how their retirement savings are being put at risk by largely unregulated entities that operate with little transparency and provide advice that can be tainted by conflicts of interest. The business community has long advocated commonsense corporate governance reforms, including greater oversight of proxy advisory firms. These ads are indicative of the significance with which manufacturers view this issue. The NAM has also submitted a formal comment letter to the SEC outlining our proposed reforms.

The U.S. Chamber Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC) recently issued two reports examining how the influence of proxy advisers continues to place undue challenges on businesses and investors. Its 2018 proxy season survey found a minority of companies believe advisory firms adequately researched issues on which they issued advice. And its examination of so-called “zombie” proposals showed the toll that repetitive, failing proposals—often supported by proxy advisers—take on companies and their shareholders.

The ad campaign will help those most threatened by the growing power of proxy advisers to learn more and have their voices heard. Ad samples and additional information can be found at www.proxyreforms.com.

NAM Drives the Agenda for SEC Proxy Roundtable

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Large institutional investors help Americans invest for retirement by managing their life savings and making proxy voting decisions on behalf of the millions of Americans with shares in a mutual fund, 401(k) or pension plan. Yet, these fund managers, duty-bound to act in middle-class Americans’ best interests, have instead been relying on unregulated, conflicted “proxy advisory firms” to shape these important decisions.

In a new comment letter submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week, the National Association of Manufacturers lays out the many flaws intrinsic to the proxy advisory firm business model and urges the SEC to take action to ensure that investment managers are acting in Main Street investors’ best interests when making proxy voting decisions.

Proxy firms have expanded their influence in recent years, and they are not shy about using their power to impact public company decision-making. Yet, their one-size-fits-all view of the world does not always align with what is best for manufacturers or Main Street investors, and their recommendations to investment managers are often riddled with errors and conflicts of interest.

The SEC is hosting a roundtable on the proxy process in November, and a key discussion item will be the role that proxy firms play in the marketplace given the outsized influence these firms have on company decisions that impact the savings in millions of Main Street investors’ retirement accounts. In our comment letter, we call for targeted reforms that would allow proxy firms to continue to provide advice to investment managers—but under increased oversight from the SEC and improved due diligence from institutional investors.

By taking concrete action to address these important issues, the SEC can ensure that investment managers, proxy firms and public companies alike remain exclusively focused on delivering returns for middle-class Americans investing for a child’s education, a new home or a secure retirement.

The Ex-Im Bank Is a Critical Tool in Checking China’s Ambitions. It’s Time to Get It Operating Again.

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joins members of both parties in applauding Congress’ passage of the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (BUILD Act) as part of the recent broader Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization package. The BUILD Act reorganizes the way that development funds are parceled out. This is important because it creates a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a Chinese effort to solidify its global economic and strategic influence by dumping billions into investment projects in dozens of countries around the world.

Countering China’s influence is something Republicans believe is important. It’s something Democrats think is important. And it’s something that manufacturers think is important. Then it must be time for America to get serious by taking the most critical and obvious step next: let’s finally get the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank back up and running again.

For years now, the Ex-Im Bank has been effectively shuttered because the Senate has not taken action to fill vacancies on the board of directors. This is the agency that provides financing and insurance for American exports where there are no private-sector alternatives. Manufacturers and companies across the country depend on a fully functioning Ex-Im Bank to compete effectively with economic rivals across the globe—nearly all of which are backed by their own export credit agency.

China is a perfect example. Last year, China’s version of the Ex-Im Bank provided $45 billion in medium- and long-term support for projects around the world—more than the rest of the world combined. Given that, it’s no surprise that exporters in the United States continue to lose deals to China by the day, harming manufacturing industries and workers across the country.

Take Hoffman Equipment. Its $125 million deal to sell hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment to Cameroon has been scooped up by China because the financing exceeded what the Ex-Im Bank can greenlight while its board has this many vacancies. Musya Tumanyan, senior vice president at Hoffman, has been fending off attempts by China—backed by seemingly unlimited government financing—to steal even more contracts away from Hoffman. We must put an end to lost sales and lost opportunities that are hurting our manufacturing base.

That’s why the NAM has called repeatedly for the Senate to take immediate action to confirm Kimberly Reed as the leader of the Ex-Im Bank and deliver her a board quorum. That’s all that’s needed for the Ex-Im Bank to get back online. That’s all that’s necessary to start putting American exports back on a more level playing field with those of China and others. That’s it. Congress doesn’t need to pass a law. Congress doesn’t even need to vet these nominees through committee (it already happened). All that’s needed is for the Senate to simply vote on their confirmations before the full Senate. Up or down. Yes or no.

A fully functional Ex-Im Bank is yet another example of how Congress and the Trump administration can align economic security with national security, a key priority of the president’s National Security Strategy. Just as the BUILD Act stands up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a fully functional Ex-Im Bank will help counter China’s use of its export credit agencies to put Chinese interests ahead of ours. Now is the time to get this done.

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