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Energy

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.

 

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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.

Manufacturers Disappointed by Tale of Two Kaines

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

It has been just over three weeks since Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) became Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine. And in that short amount of time, he has, to the disappointment of manufacturers, changed positions on two of our most important issues: energy and trade.

As a senator, manufacturers could often count on Sen. Kaine to be a reasonable voice on energy and environmental policy issues. On energy exports, he was in line with manufacturers, cosponsoring legislation in 2013 and 2015 to improve the permitting process for liquefied natural gas export terminals—projects that will drive billions of dollars in investments in manufacturing and other industrial sectors. On opening access to oil and gas resources off the Atlantic Coast, Sen. Kaine once again helped lead the charge, cosponsoring legislation in 2013 and again in 2015 directing the Department of Interior to include the Atlantic Coast in its energy lease sales.

Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine, on the other hand, is staking out a starkly different position on energy development. He opposes unlocking oil and gas resources off the Atlantic Coast. This abrupt shift on energy policy raises some red flags for manufacturers, consumers of one-third of the nation’s energy. An NAM study performed by IHS Economics forecasts that over the next decade, total demand for natural gas will increase by 40 percent, driven in large part by increased demand from manufacturers.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we are also seeing a tale of two Kaines. While nothing about the text of the TPP has changed since the 12-country trade deal was signed in February, Sen. Kaine’s position has appeared to shift significantly. In July, he made several positive statements on the TPP, noting that there “was much in it to like,” including upgraded labor, environmental and intellectual property standards. Less than a week later, however, Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine completely disavowed the TPP. Sen. Kaine’s original statements on the TPP, not his newfound opposition, are in line with the type of trade agenda that will grow U.S. manufacturing. The United States is losing in the global competition to open markets, as other countries have negotiated hundreds of trade agreements that exclude and disadvantage manufacturers in the United States. Manufacturers need trade agreements like the TPP to eliminate foreign trade barriers and upgrade foreign standards to level the playing field and boost U.S. competitiveness globally. Standing on the global sidelines just means the United States will fall further and further behind competitors, such as China, Mexico, Germany and others.

If manufacturers are going to continue driving economic growth over the next four years and beyond, we need access to all forms of energy and access to more markets overseas. So we need leaders whose policy positions are more like Sen. Kaine’s than Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine’s.

DNC Energy Platform Long on Commands, Short on Hope

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

The most important sentence on energy in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) platform document is the one it took out: this version of the platform no longer supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

Coal is out. Nuclear energy and hydropower aren’t even mentioned once in the platform. This version seeks to pick winners and losers in the energy space and remake the energy mix the way the DNC platform committee sees fit, regardless of what the market wants.

You know why that’s a bad idea? Because just about every time the government tries to pick winners and losers in the energy space, the government gets it wrong—like really, really wrong.

Eight years ago, we were told that coal would be the dominant electricity source for the next 50 years, that we would hit peak oil and gas and need to build new natural gas import terminals, that a renaissance of new nuclear power plants was upon us and that the vehicle fleet would transition to biofuels. Policies were put into place to adjust to those projections. Fast-forward to today, and just about every one of those predictions has been proven wrong. The one thing the government just couldn’t predict was the pace of innovation. And innovate we did: hydraulic fracturing unlocked hundreds of years’ worth of oil and gas supplies right here in the United States, renewable energy and energy-efficient products and solutions are getting cheaper by the day, the vehicle fleet is getting more efficient and electric vehicles are gaining market share, we are about to become net exporters of oil and gas, and advanced coal and nuclear technologies are getting closer to market.

Point being: a commitment to letting the market decide what energy technologies win or lose got us where we are now. And where we are now is a position of energy strength.

Take natural gas. Manufacturers have historically had an outsized reliance on natural gas. Unlike residential consumers, whose main interactions with natural gas are at the power plant and through their stoves and furnaces, manufacturers rely on natural gas for a wide range of direct and indirect uses. Manufacturers use natural gas as a fuel for direct process uses, such as drying, melting, process cooling, machine drive and refrigeration; as a fuel for direct nonprocess uses in manufacturing establishments, such as heating, ventilation, HVAC and lighting; as a fuel for indirect purposes, such as boilers used to produce electricity and steam; and as a feedstock in refining, chemicals and primary metals sectors. Domestic natural gas has transformed the U.S. economy, made our companies more competitive, created jobs and put money back in the pockets of working Americans.

Over the next decade, total demand for natural gas will increase by 40 percent. Key drivers will be power generation and manufacturing: the chemical industry alone plans to invest in 264 new projects representing $164 billion in capital investment in the United States thanks to natural gas. U.S. supply of natural gas will grow by 48 percent, more than enough to meet growing demand.

Yet, the DNC platform document wants to make it significantly harder to access this energy. It wants to stop energy exploration off the coasts, phase it down on public lands and send the Department of Justice after fossil fuel companies. All of that will make it substantially harder for manufacturers to access the energy that we need to stay competitive.

The DNC platform committee knows as much about the next eight years of our energy future as it did back in 2008. Case in point: the 2008 platform document claimed, “We know we can’t drill our way to energy independence.” Turns out we actually can, and for the most part, have.

The one thing the platform seems to ignore is innovation. Without innovation—without hope—we’re not going to solve any of our environmental challenges and take advantage of new energy opportunities.

Manufacturers File Brief Supporting Energy Access

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

Yesterday, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA), the legal arm of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), along with eight other business and manufacturing trade groups, filed an amicus brief supporting Constitution Pipeline in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After extensive environmental, safety and economic review, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had approved the critical energy infrastructure project. However, the state of New York attempted to block the project, undermining the collaborative approval process. Constitution is challenging New York’s denial of its Section 401 water permit for construction of the new natural gas pipeline.

For manufacturers, who use one-third of our nation’s energy, access to abundant and reliable energy sources is essential to our continued growth and ability to compete globally. While states play an important role under the Clean Water Act, they should not be allowed to use their permitting processes, including the issuance of water quality certificates, to unreasonably delay, exact concessions from, or scuttle federally approved projects.

“As some of the largest producers, transporters and users of natural gas in the country, many of amici’s members are directly affected by the decision under review, which denied a certification necessary for the construction of an important interstate pipeline,” said parties in the brief. “Furthermore, amici are concerned by the broader impacts of certification denials like this one on the development of much-needed natural gas infrastructure. Total natural gas demand, driven in particular by manufacturing and power generation, is poised to increase by 40 percent over the next decade, and the U.S. supply is expected to increase by 48 percent over the same period. Furthermore, explosive growth in shale gas requires the construction of new pipeline capacity. Amici thus have a strong interest in the effectuation of Congress’ policy for the efficient, transparent and predictable approval of natural gas pipelines.”

Earlier this year, the NAM released a new comprehensive study that reveals how natural gas has strengthened manufacturing and encouraged U.S. manufacturing growth and employment. This study underscores the need for critical energy infrastructure.

“Over the next decade, our nation’s demand for natural gas is only going to grow, and much of that growth is from manufacturing,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Our study unequivocally shows that if our growing demand is not taken seriously by policymakers, we will have a serious lack of infrastructure that will jeopardize our growth. Natural gas is responsible for millions of jobs, tens of thousands in manufacturing alone. We can’t afford to let misguided policies rob us of this valuable domestic resource.”

The MCLA serves as the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts, representing the more than 12 million men and women who make things in the United States. The MCLA strategically engages in litigation as a direct party, intervenes in litigation important to manufacturers and weighs in as amicus curiae on important cases. To learn more about the MCLA, visit our website.

Driving a Global Movement to Zero Waste

By | General, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Sustainability | No Comments

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This guest blog post is authored by John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction. It is the inaugural blog post in the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Manufacturing a Sustainable Future blog series. 

It’s an exciting time to be working in the automotive industry. Our chairman and CEO, Mary Barra, believes the industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50. GM is restructuring its portfolio to maximize vehicle efficiencies, electrifying vehicles and providing connectivity solutions that promote sustainability. All of this transformation includes our operations and how we make our products. We are committed to responsible manufacturing that conserves our industry’s vital resources. Read More

Will You Stand with Us to Reform Regulation?

By | Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

35,000. That’s the cost of federal regulations endured by a small manufacturer with fewer than 50 employees—per year, per employee!

I think we can all agree: this isn’t the way our regulatory system should work. It is time for real reform.

That’s why the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, is launching a project called Rethink Red Tape to bring the regulatory issue to life for lawmakers in Washington and provide real momentum for reform.

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Regulations are important, but the constant churn of new and misguided rules leads to regulations that are counterproductive, contradictory and next to impossible to understand. That’s especially hard for small business owners who don’t have the resources to keep pace with new regulations and absorb their higher costs.

Layers of excessive regulations hurt manufacturers’ ability to invest in new innovations, and our entire economy suffers as a result.

To correct this and enable American manufacturers and small businesses to grow and create jobs, regulatory reform has to be a bipartisan priority. Transparency, accountability and honest evaluations of small business costs need to be part of our government’s regulatory calculus. Too often, this is the exception and not the rule.

Through Rethink Red Tape, we’re working to change that, but we need your help to make this work. We need you to stand with us.

Rethink Red Tape will bring personal viewpoints and real-life stories to the conversation to explain the impact regulations have on small firms and the hours and opportunities manufacturers lose because of them.

As our program grows, we’ll identify and advance bipartisan solutions that will change the way regulations are written and give small businesses a stronger voice in the process.

Join us at www.RethinkRedTape.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Environmental Impact Statement Released for Washington State Export Terminal

By | Energy, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

On Friday, Cowlitz County, Wash., and the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview, a planned export terminal for coal and other bulk commodities along the Columbia River in Cowlitz County. Today’s EIS was produced by the state and county under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which is essentially Washington’s version of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the federal environmental policy statute that requires environmental impact analysis of major federal actions affecting the environment. Disputes over the scope of the EIS for this terminal among Cowlitz County, WDOE and the Army Corps of Engineers has led to the production of dual EIS analyses: one produced by the Army Corps, which analyzes site-specific impacts as is traditional practice, and today’s SEPA analysis, which broadens the scope dramatically to include cumulative, lifecycle impacts not only of the terminal but the commodities being shipped through that terminal. It’s an unusual practice to say the least and has had manufacturers concerned for a long time, given the potential precedent that could be set for all exports of manufactured goods.

We’re just now digging into the hundreds (thousands?) of pages making up the SEPA analysis. One area that immediately gives us concern is how the WDOE and Cowlitz County evaluate the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of the facility and the mitigation measures recommended. This is largely uncharted territory from both a legal and policy standpoint, and one that could have a significant impact on similar analyses in Washington and other states. Manufacturers depend heavily on exports, and conditions placed on one exported product could cascade to other products as well. If those conditions get in the way of trade or unduly delay exports, it could also violate U.S. international treaty obligations under World Trade Organization agreements.

A 45-day comment period is now underway for the Millennium Bulk EIS; comments can be submitted here.

Manufacturers Need Flexibility in EPA Risk Management Plan Proposal

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Chemicals are an essential part of our everyday lives, and manufacturers prudently engage in risk management planning and invest in security as a necessary component of their business operations and to assure customer confidence. Manufacturers are committed to protecting the environment and the health and safety of their workers and communities. We are growing concerned, however, with some of the new requirements in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed revisions to its Risk Management Program, which deals with onsite storage of chemicals at manufacturing facilities.

The new standards will impact manufacturers in numerous sectors, including pulp and paper; refining; chemical manufacturing; wholesalers; iron and steel; pharmaceuticals; fertilizers; coal products; food manufacturing; plastics; cement; and energy producers and utilities. Read More

On Ozone, Hickenlooper Gets It

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Manufacturers are encouraged by the statements made by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) regarding the need for relief from the Environmental Protection Agency’s October 2015 ozone standards. The governor made the following statement yesterday:

“So I think it would be a great idea if they suspended the standard. I mean, just with the background [ozone], if you’re not going to be able to conform to a standard like this, you are leaving the risk or the possibility that there will be penalties of one sort or another that come from your lack of compliance. Obviously, no different than any business, states want to have as much predictability as possible, and I think if they suspend the standards, it’s not going to slow us down from continuing to try and make our air cleaner…

You know, we’re a mile high. Air quality issues affect us more directly than they do at lower elevations. So we’re going to keep pushing it, we’re not going to back off, we’re going to continue to improve the air quality in the state every year if I have anything to say about it, but at the same time, those standards, you know, to be punitive when you’re working as hard as you can … to get cleaner air as rapidly as you can, it seems like it’s not the most constructive stance.”

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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