No Second-Guessing Allowed When EPA and Corps of Engineers Assert Jurisdiction over WOTUS

By | Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Whether or not you agree with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest rule defining the scope of their power to regulate property that affects “waters of the United States,” there is no doubt that the threshold questionwhether the federal government has jurisdiction over particular actions on your propertyis an important one. If your property is subject to their jurisdiction and you want to do anything that might affect regulated areas, you’ll need to go through an expensive permitting process.

Permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for development of lands that are now covered by the broader regulation entail spending money for four types of costs: permit application costs, compensatory mitigation costs, permitting time costs and impact avoidance and minimization costs. Studies relied on by the government estimate that a typical general permit costs from $22,079 each plus $12,153 per acre covered by the permit, while individual permits can cost more than twice that amount. And if you don’t get a permit, civil and criminal penalties, as well as private enforcement penalties from environmental activists, can be imposed. Read More

Critics Use Same Flawed Scare Tactics to Bash Trade Deals

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

Trade critics continue to roll out the same tired arguments lashing out against trade deals that create critical opportunities for American businesses, workers and consumers, even though these arguments have been proven wrong time and time again.

The Sierra Club issued the latest salvo recently, with a new paper that repeats its typical criticisms of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The paper seeks to present a stark picture of the future, warning of a pending “swell” of ISDS challenges to scare governments from moving forward on public interest regulations.

Sound familiar?  It should. Anti-trade environmental groups have used these far-fetched arguments before, even though none of what they have predicted has ever come to pass. The Sierra Club’s claims about the United States’ free trade deal with South Korea is a good example where they warned that the deal would “significantly raise the likelihood of more costly investor-state cases targeting U.S. laws and regulations.”

These arguments are scare tactics, not grounded in facts. After four years, not a single ISDS case has been filed under the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In fact, the United States has free trade agreements in force with 20 countries and bilateral investment treaties in place with approximately 40 countries, and yet has faced only a small number of ISDS cases: 18 cases over the past 25 years. The United States has a strong track record here, having won every single case that has been concluded.

The truth is that ISDS is all about fair play, making sure that governments keep their international commitments, respect private property and treat all companies fairly and without discrimination. Here are some of the key facts about ISDS: Read More

GDP forecast

Fourth Quarter 2015 Real GDP Revised Higher at 1.4 Percent Growth

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that real GDP growth grew 1.4 percent at the annual rate in the fourth quarter. This was higher than the prior estimates of 0.7 percent and 1.0 percent. This latest revision reflected improvements in spending on services and growth in exports, but inventory spending was slower than in the most recent data release. Here are some trends in the data of note:

  • Personal consumption expenditures added 1.66 percentage points to real GDP growth in the fourth quarter, increasing 2.4 percent at the annual rate. The bulk of that contribution came from services, which added 1.30 percent to the headline figure, especially from spending on food services, health care and recreation. In contrast, spending on durable and nondurable goods eased from growth rates seen in the third quarter, suggesting that consumers were holding back in the fourth quarter from making larger purchases.
  • Businesses were also holding back on capital spending. Nonresidential fixed investment subtracted 0.27 percentage points from real GDP in the fourth quarter, with decreased spending on equipment, intellectual property products and structures. Slower inventory spending was also a factor, subtracting 0.22 percentage points. In contrast, residential investment rose by an annualized 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter on strength in the housing market, adding 0.33 percentage points. As a whole, gross private domestic investment served as a drag on real GDP growth, reducing the headline figure by 0.16 percentage points.
  • Net exports were also a drag on growth, subtracting 0.14 percentage points from real GDP in the quarter. Goods exports declined by 5.4 percent at the annual rate in this report; whereas, goods imports were off by 1.3 percent. These data illustrate the significant headwinds faced by manufacturers from the strong dollar and sluggish economic growth in key markets. Indeed, U.S.-manufactured goods exports fell 6.1 percent last year.

Overall, demand and output remain significantly challenged in the manufacturing sector, and business leaders remain nervous in their economic outlook. The current expectation is for real GDP to increase by 2.1 percent in 2016, with manufacturing production up 1.5 percent.

Sherrill Visits Detroit, Calls for Policies That Help Drive Manufacturing Innovation

By | Innovation, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Technology is revolutionizing manufacturing—the Internet of Things, Big Data and the cloud. All of these innovative tools are changing what we make and how we make it. That was a topic of discussion at “Manufacturing in America,” an event hosted by Siemens and Electro-Matic Products this week at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. In his remarks Wednesday morning, Tenneco Inc. Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Gregg Sherrill delved into the many ways technology is not only empowering manufacturers, transforming our products and changing lives but also creating new policy challenges. Lawmakers must approach these challenges with care or risk stunting this growth opportunity for manufacturers in the United States.

Products and processes connected online, also known as the Internet of Things, facilitate the seamless integration of supply chains, drive increased global collaboration and connect design with production. The data generated allow manufacturers to get real-time feedback to better serve their customers and deliver higher quality and safer products. The cloud is securely moving information at light speed across borders. Read More

Oil and Gas Industry Digs in on Charitable Giving in PA

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

“As profits fell and the unemployment rate soared, local charitable organizations were receiving more money. They were able to help when it was needed most, thanks to new donations from oil and gas companies. United Way has collected nearly $1.2 million from the industry since 2007,” Murphy said.

oil and gas aritclePenn Live had a great article this week showcasing the amazing charitable giving that is coming out of the oil and gas sector of manufacturing in Pennslyvania, including NAM members Range Resources and Chesapeake Energy! What makes this act of philanthropy even more incredible is that it comes at a time when the oil and gas industry is facing economic headwinds, and instead of shying away, they are digging in and giving back! Check out the full article below!

 

By Candy Woodall on March 22, 2016

Barbara Murphy had an up‑close view of how much money her nonprofit was losing and worried it would only get worse in the throes of the recession.

“We were losing money every year until 2007,” she said.

That year the fundraisers at the United Way of Washington County were hoping the organization could attract at least $750,000 in donations.

Murphy, who was the resource development director at the time, was in charge of “shaking bushes for money.”

Now she’s president of the nonprofit and oversees a budget that has grown in the last nine years. It reached more than $1.5 million by June 2015.

“It makes me look like a miracle worker, and I’d love to take credit, but it was being in the right place at the right time,” Murphy said.

The right place was thousands of feet above a river of natural gas, and the right time was at the start of the Marcellus Shale boom.

“If a charity in Washington County is not receiving money from Marcellus Shale companies, it’s because they’re not asking,” Murphy said.

Oil and gas development was a game‑changer for nonprofits in Washington County and throughout the state.

It’s generally believed that, as goes the economy, so do donations to nonprofits. But the industry changed that axiom in Pennsylvania.

As profits fell and the unemployment rate soared, local charitable organizations were receiving more money. They were able to help when it was needed most, thanks to new donations from oil and gas companies.

United Way has collected nearly $1.2 million from the industry since 2007, Murphy said.

Range Resources was the first company to frack a well in Pennsylvania, and it was the first company to donate to the United Way in 2007.

Read More

It’s Time to End Cuba Trade Restrictions

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

President Obama made a historic visit this week to Cubathe first visit by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 yearson the heels of new announcements last week to further ease restrictions on exports and facilitate authorized travel to the island. In an address to the Cuban people, President Obama made clear that the goal of the trip was to “bury the last remnants of the Cold War in the Americas.” Across the three-day visit, President Obama engaged local entrepreneurs, visited the newly reopened U.S. Embassy and met with Cuban President Raul Castro to discuss a number of key issues impacting the path forward on normal trade relations between the two countries. At the start of the trip, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced a new deal to develop and manage operations in Cuba, becoming the first U.S. hotel company presence on the island since the 1959 revolution. While the travel ban for U.S. tourism remains, the deal serves as another indicator of the significant changes in diplomatic relations over the past year.

The NAM released today a letter to commend Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) for their efforts to repeal the trade embargo on Cuba, the Cuba Trade Act of 2015 (H.R. 3238). The NAM is a strong advocate for a robust trade agenda to open markets abroad for manufacturers in the United States, and eliminating the trade embargo on Cuba will allow for increased economic activity between the two nations. A 2014 Peterson Institute study estimated that U.S. merchandise exports to Cuba could reach $4.3 billion annually. In recent years, merchandise exports to Cuba have been a fraction of thatgenerally ranging between $300 million and $500 million annually. Read More

U.S. Rejects Canada’s Claims to Self-Define IP Terms in Ongoing Dispute

By | intellectual property, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey and NAM Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Patrick Forrest co-authored this blog post.

Manufacturers welcome the U.S. government’s strong rejection of Canada’s arguments in a pending investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Like the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the U.S. government has made clear that Canada cannot self-define core intellectual property (IP) obligations in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In a filing to the NAFTA tribunal hearing the case, the United States also fully affirmed that patents are investments that are protected from expropriation, meaning that the governments cannot seize or invalidate them without fair compensation. IP rights are of high importance to manufacturers in the United States and the good-paying jobs manufacturing provides throughout the country. Read More

Manufacturers Encouraged by Ozone Implementation Bill

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

We often say that clean air and a strong economy can go hand-in-hand. Underlying that belief is a recognition that we need the right policies in place to ensure both goals are achieved. Just five months after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its strictest ozone regulation ever, throwing hundreds of counties into noncompliance with the standard, manufacturers are encouraged to see leaders from the House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) offer legislation that would restore some much-needed flexibility to this policy.

Since 1980, ozone levels are down nationwide more than 30 percent—and down nearly 20 percent in just the past decade. With new investments coming online utilizing the best and cleanest technologies available, these trends will continue. Modern manufacturing has evolved into a sleek, technology-driven industry, and air quality has improved vastly as a result. But many of our environmental policies, such as the ozone rule, have failed to keep pace.

Ozone 70 Infographics (700x350) Read More

Manufacturers Agree: Joint-Employer Standard Could Hurt Entrepreneurship

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations held a hearing looking at the joint-employer standard and its impact on businesses. For months, the NAM has been at the forefront of efforts to push back against the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision in Browning-Ferris Industries, which created a new joint-employer standard in federal labor law.

This new standard turned 30 years of precedent on its head by stating that two companies are joint employers if the host employer has any indirect or potential control of the contracted entity’s employees. Previously, a company had to have actual or direct control over these employees. Read More

Trade Beyond the Sound Bites

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

The presidential campaigns have brought trade front and center in their debates and on social and traditional media. Lots of statements are made and repeated that bear no relation to the reality that manufacturers in the United States face every day in the global economy. Perhaps sound bites don’t make for an easy way to talk about the opportunities and challenges that trade creates for manufacturers big and small.

The NAM, which was founded in 1895 in substantial part to open foreign markets for the U.S. manufacturing industry, is committed to informing and educating both policymakers and the broader public about the impact of trade on manufacturing and the agenda that we believe will help us grow manufacturing in a highly competitive global economy. To that end, the NAM hosted yesterday a digital event featuring a panel of trade experts: Ambassador Carla Hills, former U.S. trade representative; Tony Fratto, former White House communications expert and founding partner at Hamilton Place Strategies; and Chuck Wetherington, president at BTE Technologies.

Watch the event by clicking here.

From left: Wetherington, Fratto, Hills, Dempsey gather for Periscope panel on trade. Photo by: D. Thoennessen/NAM

From left: Wetherington, Fratto, Hills and Dempsey gather for a Periscope panel on trade. Photo by: D. Thoennessen/NAM

The panelists provided decades of experience at the forefront of U.S. policy and the business reality that manufacturers face in selling domestically and overseas in competition from businesses in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. I set the table for the conversation with a point oftentimes missed in the broad public discussion on trade: manufacturing is growing in the United States. Manufacturing output is currently at its highest level ever, quadrupling since 1980 to reach a record high of $2.17 trillion in 2015. As the most productive manufacturing sector in the world, our manufacturers need to expand their customer base, including to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers that live outside our borders. Read More