All Posts By

Ross Eisenberg

House to Examine Fluorinated Chemicals

By | General | No Comments

This morning, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing to examine PFAS, a class of fluorinated chemicals that have been used throughout manufacturing since the 1940s due to their unique fat and water repelling properties.

Certain PFAS chemicals were phased out in the early 2000s and are no longer manufactured in the U.S., but more modern versions of these chemicals are still used. These more modern chemicals have a range of different uses for manufacturers (like firefighting foams or electronics manufacturing) and consumers (like nonstick products), and it is important that lingering concerns over their use are examined and addressed. That’s why manufacturers supported recent steps announced by the EPA to do just that and it’s why we will work with the agency to obtain the data and information it needs. Relatedly, rather than turn to overly broad legislation like the recently-introduced “PFAS Action Act of 2019,” which would designate all PFAS chemicals as hazardous, we urge Congress to take a judicious and science-based approach and we look forward to working with lawmakers as they do so.

For manufacturers, our top priority is ensuring that our products are safe for their intended use. We support efforts to determine the safety of PFAS and to increase the level of federal regulation of these chemicals. We are concerned that the PFAS Action Act of 2019 goes a step too far by declaring as hazardous thousands of chemicals for which science either does not exist or is not complete. That is a dangerous precedent that could lead to a number of problems for other chemicals. We think there are better ways for Congress to address concerns over PFAS. For instance, Congress could set a firm deadline for EPA to complete its scientific evaluation of these chemicals and to set standards for their safety. It could increase the number of PFAS chemicals EPA regulates. And it could provide EPA and states more resources to carry out these scientific reviews.

It’s clear Congress is just getting started. We’ll be a constructive voice at the table supporting a solution for consumers and manufacturers that assures the safety of the products we all use.

FERC Ruling a Path Forward on Climate

By | Energy, Environment, General | No Comments

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted 3-1 to authorize theVenture Global Calcasieu Pass project in Cameron Parish, La., a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility. FERC also voted to authorize the accompanying TransCameron pipeline.

The vote was significant because it was preceded by an agreement among three of the four sitting FERC commissioners on how to address greenhouse gas (GHG) and climate impacts in FERC’s analysis of potential LNG projects. The White House Council on Environmental Quality issued guidance in August 2016 on how to consider GHGs in environmental permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); President Trump withdrew this guidance in March 2017 as part of Executive Order 13783, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”

The NAM supported President Trump’s decision to withdraw the guidance and has pressed for a revised policy that addresses how to evaluate GHG emissions for projects subject to NEPA. FERC’s handling of GHGs on the Venture Global project is a major breakthrough that, carried forward, will provide the certainty manufacturers need for LNG permitting and hopefully other infrastructure projects before the Commission.

Manufacturers are committed to action on climate change. We need reasonable rules of the road that allow us to reduce emissions while remaining competitive. We commend FERC for stepping up and taking a bipartisan approach to this issue, one we hope will provide certainty for future infrastructure permits before the Commission.

NAM Weighs in on the EPA’s Proposed Cost-Benefit Analysis Reform

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

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would solicit public input on whether and how to change the way it considers costs and benefits in making regulatory decisions. As was first reported in Politico on Tuesday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed comments outlining manufacturers’ priorities for reform and listed numerous examples of flawed and costly rulemaking.

The NAM’s comments included the following recommendations:

  • If costs and benefits will accrue over a 30-year time horizon, the agency should provide cost and benefit estimates for the whole time horizon, not simply a snapshot of what costs and benefits would look like in a given year within the range.
  • When compliance with a rule is based on unknown controls, the EPA must base its calculation of those unknown controls on realistic assumptions.
  • When costs and benefits will accrue to the whole economy, the EPA should model the impact on the whole economy, not just a part of it.
  • The agency should avoid relying on outdated data, studies and methodologies, and it should similarly avoid being overly speculative.
  • The agency can achieve the consistency and specificity it seeks through statute-specific rulemakings that allow for more tailored approaches reflecting the unique statutory requirements.

As I wrote in our filing:

Manufacturers strongly support the EPA’s mission. Moreover, the benefits of appropriate regulations are clear and supported by the public. The issue is how to enable the regulatory system to address legitimate concerns without unreasonably impeding innovation, research, development and product deployment. Too often in the regulatory process, the vital national public policy objectives of international competitiveness and technological innovation are given short shrift due to other competing mandates. To protect public health and the environment, the NAM supports a regulatory process designed to adhere to sound principles of science, risk assessment and robust benefit-cost analysis.…In our view, there are three pillars of effective regulatory cost considerations: transparency, scientific integrity and accountability. In other words, the rule-making process should be conducted out in the open and backed up by objective, unimpeachable science, while being overseen by officials who are held accountable.

The NAM’s full comments can be viewed here.

Curbelo Bill Reignites Important Congressional Dialogue on Climate Change

By | General | No Comments

This week saw the introduction of the Market Choice Act, offered by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), which would curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a $24/ton tax on carbon levied at the point of fossil fuel production (for energy emissions) and at the manufacturing facility (for process emissions). The bill also repeals the federal gas tax and uses 70 percent of the revenues from the new carbon tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. Finally, it imposes a border tax adjustment on imported goods to compensate for increased domestic production costs resulting from the carbon tax, and it places a moratorium through at least 2025 on Clean Air Act GHG regulations from stationary sources covered by the tax.

Reps. Curbelo and Fitzpatrick are to be applauded for their willingness to start a meaningful conversation on climate policy. The reality that the last time a comprehensive climate bill was debated in earnest was 2009 tells a tale. A lot has happened since then in terms of how we produce and use energy and how we can reduce our carbon footprint. The manufacturing sector, for instance, has reduced our GHG emissions 10 percent over the past decade while increasing our value to the economy by 19 percent.

Given the enormous complexity of the issues involved and their potential impact on manufacturing families, Congress would do well to take a measured, comprehensive approach to this proposal. Bold ideas to drive positive change are always welcome. However, bold action can sometimes have unintended consequences. Now is not the time to act without thinking—the stakes for manufacturers and their employees are simply too high. ‎

Individually, these proposals are game-changing. Collectively, we need to make sure they are not game-ending.

EPA’s Science Advisory Board Is Looking into the Glider Rule Repeal. Here’s Why That Is a Good Idea.

By | General | No Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) recently announced it will take a hard look at the EPA’s planned repeal of emission requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines and glider kits. We’re pleased the SAB is looking into the emission impacts of gliders, which are older, used engines dropped into a new truck body. We have been concerned with the glider rule repeal, which we fear could create a loophole allowing the ability for glider vehicles to be sold as functional equivalents to new motor vehicles without complying with current safety or environmental standards. That creates emissions issues, given that some of the older, pre-2000 glider engines lack the controls for air pollutants that are mandatory in new vehicles.

The SAB, we hope, will evaluate how much gliders emit relative to new trucks. When the EPA proposed emissions rules on gliders in 2016, its modeling concluded that gliders emit 20 to 40 times as much nitrogen oxide (NOx) and soot as new trucks. The EPA’s proposed repeal in 2017 cited a study from Tennessee Tech University that found that glider emissions were on par with new trucks; however, Tennessee Tech then pulled the study and disavowed it, citing “knowledgeable experts within the University” who have “questioned the methodology and accuracy of the report.”

We really need some answers here before the EPA makes a decision whether to repeal the glider rule. If the EPA’s original emissions estimate is correct, then the glider rule repeal means trucks without modern pollution controls will be entering the fleet and emitting 20 to 40 times as much NOx and soot as their new counterparts. That puts a squeeze on manufacturers, who face limitations on their NOx and PM emissions due to strict EPA regulations on ozone and particulate matter and will be forced to compensate for higher-than-usual emissions from the transportation sector. We also encourage the EPA to take a hard look at the economy-wide jobs and economic impact of the glider repeal, to determine whether the costs outweigh the benefits as required by Executive Orders 12866, 13563 and 13771.