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Infrastructure

Timmons: Dakota Access Decision Defies Logic, Science and Sound Policy

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

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement after President Obama denied the permits necessary to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“This decision defies logic, science and sound policy-decision making, and the consequences can be measured in lost work for manufacturers and those in the manufacturing supply chain. 

“If a project that has involved all relevant stakeholders and followed both the letter and spirit of the law at every step of this approval process can be derailed, what signal does that send to others considering building new energy infrastructure in this country?

“We can only hope that President-elect Trump will stand by his promises to invest aggressively in new infrastructure in America and start by overturning this misguided decision and allow the completion of the pipeline.”

Learn more about how energy infrastructure opens up opportunities here.

CONTACT: Jennifer Drogus (202) 637-3090

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

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

Telecom Infrastructure Investment Boosts Manufacturing Innovation

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

The NAM recently released Building to Win, a blueprint for the next Congress and president on how to repair and revolutionize the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. There are many pieces of infrastructure mentioned in the report – traditional transportation infrastructure as well as energy, water and communications systems. Broadband is one segment of infrastructure that is often overlooked but cannot be forgotten as the next President and Congress look ahead to a renewed focus on infrastructure.

There is little or no argument about the benefits of widespread adoption of broadband. It creates economic opportunity and equality. In the manufacturing sector, it is helping to power the disruptive technology – the Internet of Things, the cloud, Big Data, 3D-printing, drones, etc. – that is transforming traditional businesses.

NAM members told us in a recent survey that these new technologies are increasing shop floor efficiencies, enabling new revenue streams, and allowing manufacturers to move into completely different product lines. And a common link throughout all these technologies? They all run on top of our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Our products and processes have become increasingly dependent on the latest telecommunications tools and networks. Many manufacturers leverage commercially available networks and many others manage their own networks for their facilities. No matter what type of network, they are all almost entirely funded with private investment.

Unfortunately, if private investment in this piece of the infrastructure lags, our manufacturing innovation leadership will be further challenged.

The Progressive Policy Institute recently published their Investment Heroes report in which they rank corporations by levels of capital spending. PPI’s primary conclusion was that these private investments raise productivity and wages across the country. It also cited a “vitally-important” policy challenge to maintain investment and that was to get regulation “out of the way.”

Those of us in the manufacturing sector agree: a regulatory environment that fosters investment rather than restrict it is needed, especially when it comes to broadband. When companies are faced with a complex, mandatory regulatory regime it severely reduces investment in infrastructure. This lack of investment will significantly lower the multiplier effect technology has on our industry, the people we employ, and the products we create.

Despite Politics, Infrastructure Bill Passes the House with Bipartisan Support

By | Infrastructure | No Comments

Amid the partisan rancor of Washington, D.C., a small but important development occurred in the House beyond the overwhelming bipartisan vote of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. Two years ago, Congress pledged to return to approving WRDA every other year. The promise was kept, and it was in large part due to the long-term education and advocacy efforts of a range of groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which continued after the previous WRDA bill was signed into law.

Water resources bills are responsible for authorizing or approving construction projects for our inland waterways and ports as well as other Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects. When Congress fails to pass these bills, projects vital to the movement of U.S.-manufactured goods are put on hold. WRDA 2016 includes approval for infrastructure improvements, such as three lock and dam projects on the Upper Ohio River. According to the Corps, all of these lock and dam systems were built before 1936 and have structural and capacity deficiencies that increase both economic inefficiencies and consumer costs. According to the Port of Pittsburgh, the Ohio River System supports 53,000 jobs mostly for the mining and manufacturing industries. Passing legislation that improves our navigable waterways makes manufacturers more competitive in the global economy.

Unfortunately, the House WRDA bill became entangled in partisan debate surrounding government funding for safe drinking water programs to help communities like Flint, Mich., as well as a possible shutdown. In the end, a bipartisan Flint amendment was included in the bill containing $170 million for drinking water aid without violating House jurisdiction or budget rules. While the amendment passed with bipartisan support, manufacturers recognize that America’s water infrastructure—from drinking water to wastewater—urgently needs investment. The NAM has long supported policy reforms that increase access to private activity bonds and innovative publicprivate partnerships for water infrastructure projects.

The ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) remained opposed to the bill because of the elimination of a bipartisan provision that would increase access to dredging money within the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The NAM strongly supported the provision. Unfortunately, it violated the House Budget rules, subjecting the entire bill to a budget point of order and jeopardizing passage of WRDA as a whole. The NAM will continue to urge Congress to increase access to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure that user fees collected for harbor maintenance are spent on harbor maintenance. For example, the Brazos Island Harbor in Texas has a backlog of dredging projects that need to be completed to support the 44,000 jobs and $3 billion of economic activity at the Port of Brownsville. Without essential dredging and other maintenance, manufacturers’ ability to export our products will be put at risk.

The next step will be for House and Senate leaders to iron out the differences between the two bills. The NAM will advocate WRDA to be signed into law by the end of the year because these infrastructure investments are essential to economic competitiveness.

Senate Passes Key Infrastructure Legislation; NAM Urges for Timely House Passage

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the Senate voted 95 to 3 to approve essential  infrastructure legislation, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) (S. 2848). The bill includes authorizations for key civil works missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including inland waterway navigation and port dredging—infrastructure investments that are vital to manufacturers and our competitiveness. The NAM sent a key-vote letter to the Senate on this measure.

The nations deepwater ports and inland waterways help keep transportation costs competitive and are an important means of transport for manufacturers and other industrial shippers. The waterways in particular move products and commodities now valued at $232 billion annually, but unfortunately, more than half of the inland waterways lock chambers have exceeded their 50-year design life. Our nation needs a modern infrastructure that manufacturers can depend on to remain competitive.

Too frequently, Congress has failed to pass water infrastructure legislation for periods as long as seven years, leaving critical projects waiting for a green light from Congress. Manufacturers are encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral support in Congress to return to a regular two-year WRDA process and to get WRDA done this year. On September 13, 141 members of the House sent a letter urging House leadership take up and pass the House version of WRDA (H.R. 5303) this September, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on potential water infrastructure projects that could be included in the bill. Manufacturers urge the House to immediately take up H.R. 5303.

Manufacturers are optimistic that Congress will continue to build on recent infrastructure accomplishments, such as the FAST Act and WRRDA 2014, to address the national backlog of infrastructure projects that threaten American competitiveness.

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.

From Poverty to Prosperity

By | Energy, Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

In a small town once praised for its inspiring ability to overcome obstacles and win support for a high school rocket-building project, there’s another story of opportunity on the horizon. A new pipeline is bringing natural gas to a diverse community in a remote part of the Southwest.

Even after building a 10 megawatt solar facility in recent years, energy was still at a premium, and bringing economic development to Presidio, Texas, has been a real challenge. But as the new pipeline winds its way south, a chili processor is now willing to invest in the city’s future.

Previously, the lack of natural gas had prevented investment, but Don Biad, managing partner of the Biad Chili Company, explained that the pipeline is a game-changer for small manufacturers. “It’s the difference between whether or not our company is profitable or not profitable.”

While this economic opportunity brings a wave of hope, the pipeline also brings environmental protection into view for the local communities because much of the natural gas will power modern electricity just across the border in Mexico. Building the pipeline is also helping to rebuild the railroad—once the lifeblood of trade through the town. That’s because transporting the steel pipes sparked investments in the rails that moved them from manufacturing facilities to the pipeline construction.

Presidio sits where the Rio Conchos joins the Rio Grande in the Big Bend of Texas; as the hardworking people in this international port town like to say, the rivers join us. So when you talk to Brad Newton, executive director of the Presidio Municipal Development District, his can-do-it optimism is anchored in unity.

“We’ve been stuck in the politics of poverty, but now we’re turning the page to the promising politics of progress. And natural gas is our best, new hope for a future—a bright future.”

As Newton put it, “The people of Presidio aren’t looking for a handout; we just want a level playing field in a world economy. That’s what natural gas gives us—a chance to compete.”

DRB29511

Permit Traps—Proceed at Your Own Risk

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

Government decisions derailing permits for infrastructure projects raise serious questions about future access and the cost of energy in this country. Affordable energy supplies are critical to the viability and competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States, but equally important is the ability to obtain a wide variety of other permits to carry on routine manufacturing operations. After successfully navigating federal, state and local government requirements, as well as opposition from national environmental groups during the permit approval process, a company is authorized to do business as long as it follows the permit.

When a Clean Water Act permit is approved and the individual is in compliance, the act provides a shield against arbitrary enforcement actions and citizen suits. The permit sets those limits. Unfortunately, a company can be forced to defend itself in court when someone tries to claim that the permit requires more than it does. If undermined, the permit shield can be no shield at all, or at least a very expensive one to maintain.

That’s the situation in a case now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond. A citizen’s group wants the court to insert new limits in a permit that the government had considered and decided not to include. In an amicus brief, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action argued that suits like this upend the process for setting and implementing water quality standards by second-guessing the interpretations of those responsible permitting authorities. They also create serious after-the-fact liability without fair notice.

This kind of regulation by litigation threatens to add another layer of government control, activated by special interest groups, on regulatory decisions. Enforcing permit requirements is appropriate, but changing the terms of a permit in the middle of production is an entirely new problem that increases uncertainty, saps the life from productive investments and dampens our ability to create and sustain jobs.