Hill Targets EPA for Expanding Clean Water Act

Feds Could Claim Expanded Jurisdiction over Waters Across the U.S.

Both House and Senate Republicans are lashing EPA since the agency issued its highly controversial “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule last month. The new rule, which becomes effective late August unless blocked by a federal court, purports to clarify waters and wetlands over which the federal government has jurisdiction and can regulate under the Clean Water Act. The rule is being challenged in court by major manufacturing, building, mining and agriculture trade groups.

Despite EPA promises to fix the document in light of over a million comments received last year, parties across the spectrum claim the agency has fallen short, and the final rule has been met with stiff opposition. Major industry and environmental groups had filed lawsuits by early July, and over 20 states were gearing up to challenge the agency as well.

States are arguing that they will be harmed based on the fact the rule will expand the number of waters subject to federal regulation, erode states’ authorities over their own waters, increase the states’ burdens and diminishing the states’ abilities to administer their own programs; and undermine the states’ sovereignty to regulate their internal affairs based on constitutional guarantees.

Posted in Law & Regulation | Tagged , ,

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Subsidies in Pivotal Ruling

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in King v. Burwell that federal healthcare subsidies would remain available to all individuals who purchase their healthcare on the federal exchange, not just to those who purchased insurance on a state-run exchange.

The crux of the case rested on a small provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare”, that provides subsidies to individuals who purchase insurance on an exchange “established by the State,” with petitioners arguing that lawmakers chose that wording intentionally to prevent the federal government from providing subsidies. Only 16 states and the District of Columbia have established state-run exchanges, and the federal IRS has been providing subsidies to individuals in the remaining states.

Chief Justice John Roberts, however, sided with the Obama Administration’s argument that this phrase was an oversight given that the intent of the law was to make healthcare more, not less, available to the public. This was the second decisive ruling Roberts and the Court have delivered for the ACA, likely limiting the ability for future petitioners to successfully have the Court hear additional challenges to the legislation in its current form.

Many congressional Republicans vowed to craft legislation that would fully repeal the ACA. However, behind closed doors, some have admitted that they are relieved with the recent ruling in the hopes that this will allow Republicans to focus on other agenda items leading into the 2016 election year.

Posted in Law & Regulation | Tagged ,

NASF SUR/FIN® Succeeds in Chicago with Strong Focus on Quality Programming

Initial SUR/FIN® attendee and exhibitor survey results now show that a sustained focus on delivering programs specifically geared to industrial finishing has been the driving force behind what is now known as one of the best industry conference and trade shows in the North American market.

“We recognize that it is thanks to the growing support and consistent commitment of our exhibitors and attendees that allows us to see such incredible gains,” said NASF President Erik Weyls of Coventya.

Although the survey results for the event were still coming in at press time, NASF leaders are pleased with the results thus far and have already begun planning its 2016 event.
NASF’s SUR/FIN® Manufacturing & Technology Trade Show & Conference attracts the best the finishing industry has to offer, which certainly motivates us to provide the best event possible to meet their needs,” said SUR/FIN® Chairman Mark Norton of Walgren Company.

The NASF SUR/FIN® Manufacturing & Technology Trade Show & Conference is open to suppliers, processors, OEM’s and qualified industry professionals.  The 2016 event will take place June 6-8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the South Point Hotel and Convention Center.  For details, visit NASFsurfin.com.

Posted in Events | Tagged , ,

NASF Congratulates the 2015 Industry Award Winners

NASF recognized the 2015 Industry Award Winners on Monday during the SUR/FIN Opening Reception. A crowd gathered at the NASF Member Pavilion to see the following industry leaders recognized for their contributions to the Surface Finishing Industry:

Scientific Achievement Award
Dr. Melissa Klingenberg
Concurrent Technologies Corporation

Award of Merit
Michael Flanigan
ElectroLab II

John Sparano, Jr.
Woodhill Plating Company

William P. Nebiolo
REM Chemicals, Inc.

Charlie Geldzehler Award
Presented by The Chicago Midwest Chapter of NASF

Ted Kodama
Craftsman Plating & Tinning Corp.

Congratulations to all Award Recipients!

Posted in Events, NASF National

New Chemicals List Issued by Global Aerospace Industry

Boeing  New 747-8 Intercontinental

The global aerospace industry issued in May the sector’s “first ever” declarable substances list to identify potentially harmful substances and prioritize certain materials for phase out and substitution in the supply chain. The International Aerospace Environmental Group (IAEG) developed the list, which is intended to be a coordinated approach to reporting and managing chemicals.

Referred to as the “Aerospace & Defence Declarable Substances List (AD-DSL),” it contains around 800 chemicals and a dozen families of chemicals, is considered an initial common list of substances that are used in or are critical for aerospace and defense applications, including manufacture and maintenance.

Members of the IAEG have noted that the list will be reviewed every six months. Sally Gestautas, Raytheon’s global substances program manager, who chairs the IAEG working group that developed a chemicals reporting standard for the IAEG, noted that, among other things, “widespread adoption of this list will highly improve material use, information, transparency and consistency in our industry.” Over three dozen companies worked to develop the list, and the project included both OEMs and suppliers.

Posted in International

10 Days to SUR/FIN 2015

Whether you are considering joining NASF, have questions about your current membership, or are just looking to connect with other industry leaders, make sure to stop by the NASF Pavilion at SUR/FIN 2015. The NASF team will look forward to seeing you, including Phil Assante, NASF Member Relations.  Pick up the latest industry literature, learn the latest on the bright design challenge, NASF’s training course catalog from the Foundation, our Advanced Surface Technology manual and textbook, regulatory and compliance materials, and other resources. NASF Members will also have the opportunity to meet with customers, suppliers and their chapter representatives in a designated meeting space.

Posted in Events

Washington Forum highlights Policy Challenges and more

Speaker presentations have been made available to attendees on the NASF Washington Forum website. If you have not received an email with the password to access the presentations, please contact Cheryl Clark at cclark@nasf.org.

Remember to save the date for next year’s Washington Forum, scheduled for April 19-21, 2016, and visit NASF.org for future developments on speakers and registration.

Keynotes on Taxes, Trade, Budget & Elections

Most of the speakers were new to this year’s event, although top legal commentator Andy Friedman of The Washington Update returned as the keynote kick off speaker. He reviewed the political and budget landscape in DC, highlighting the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement and other business issues pending in the final chapter of the Obama Administration.

The Forum also welcomed keynote luncheon speaker Amy Walter, former Political Director of ABC News and now National Editor of the Cook Political Report. Walter is an up and coming commentator with a fresh outlook on American politics. She discussed emerging 2016 presidential candidates, legislative trends, and the recent transformation of traditional and social media coverage of U.S. politics and news.

Benchmarking U.S. and Global Finishing

A major highlight of the event was the role of global regulations and their impacts on the manufacturing supply chain. Presentations included NASF Strategic Partner the Nickel Institute, as well as a panel discussion on current challenges and trends for job shops.

The industry panel discussion was led by David Elliott, leader of the European surface finishing associations. He was joined by job shop owners Lee Grant and Godfrey Evans from the UK, and finishing industry leaders Marcelo Alvarez from the newly formed Mexican plating association and Mike Kuntz from the Canadian Association for Surface Finishing.

New conference highlights this year included a view of plating and finishing at the Smithsonian Institution by David Hendrick, plating manager at the National Air & Space Museum, and a business and economic outlook from Dr. Chad Moutray, chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Robin Nissan from the Department of Defense reviewed recent decisions from the Pentagon on chemicals restrictions, new industry trends (see the global aerospace and defense industry’s new declarable substances list in this month’s Bulletin), and opportunities for industry to connect with future defense research and development projects.

Local, State & Federal Rules – New Wastewater Standards for Finishing?

Attendees also got an early update on where U.S. EPA is headed on possible changes to current wastewater rules for the industry. Agency officials highlighted their review of the current federal 413 and 433 effluent guideline standards that may see new changes by 2016, and highlighted current rulemaking discussions underway NASF. Alexandra Dunn, Executive Director of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), provided a regulatory perspective from the 50 states’ environmental agency chiefs and future approaches to water, air, waste and chemicals controls. Chris Hornback, senior regulatory director of the Washington-based trade association for the municipal wastewater treatment community, highlighted the history of collaboration between NASF and local regulators.

Labor Policy and Workplace Safety

On workplace and safety laws, top legal advisors close to the industry gave a strategic review of new trends on which small and large employers will need to stay informed as the Obama administration winds down. Kate McMahon, partner at Conn Maciel, spotlighted key OSHA decisions affecting finishing, and attorney Justin Keith of Greenberg Traurig highlighted the potential impact of major EEOC and NLRB decisions, including the new organized-labor backed “ambush election” union organizing rules. Greenberg Traurig partner Jerry Stouck, outside counsel to NASF, reviewed his recent arguments before the second highest court in the land – the DC Circuit federal court of appeals – on pending NASF litigation against EPA on chromium air emissions and PFOS-based mist suppressants.
Participants once again had the opportunity to take the industry’s message directly to Capitol Hill, meeting with Senators, Representatives and their staff to discuss a few timely issues after a briefing from the American Chemistry Council on the need for meaningful reform to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Posted in Government Relations, NASF National

Chromium Electroplating NESHAP & PFOS-Based Fume Suppressants

In a recently released Regulatory Alert, NASF notified members that the final chromium electroplating national emissions standard for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) rule has been released. The ruling prohibits perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)-based fume suppressants from being added to tanks subject to the chromium electroplating NESHAP after September 21, 2015. In the regulation, PFOS-based fume suppressant is defined as a fume suppressant that contains one percent or greater PFOS by weight. In addition, as part of the voluntary Stewardship Program with EPA, the global manufacturers of these compounds have agreed to phase out the sale of PFOS-based fumes suppressants by December 31, 2015.

Click here for more information.

Posted in Law & Regulation

Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Obama on Immigration

A federal appeals court in Texas upheld a lower court’s preliminary injunction of two Obama Administration actions on immigration pending appeal. The lawsuit, filed by Texas and 25 other states in December in Brownsville, Texas, challenges two Obama Administration immigration actions intended to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The states argue that Obama overstepped his presidential authority in his expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which permits foreign-born children who were raised in the U.S. to apply for employment and deportation deferrals, and his Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which would grant three year work permits and deportation deferrals to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for five years and have children who are U.S. citizens.

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, implemented a temporary block to their implementation while he considered the constitutional arguments of the states’ case. The Obama Administration appealed this ruling, requesting an “emergency stay” that would have overruled Judge Hanen’s temporary block. This appeal was rejected Tuesday by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Tuesday in a 2-1 opinion stating that the government would be unlikely to win its appeal of the Texas decision. The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the new development but may appeal Tuesday’s decision directly to the Supreme Court.

Posted in Business

Clean Water Act Ruling

On May 27, 2015, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the final rule defining waters of the United States for jurisdiction pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA). This rule may subject a range of activities of industrial facilities, commercial establishments, agricultural operations and local governments to jurisdiction of the CWA and trigger the need for federal permits for these activities.

The final rule streamlines the definition of tributaries by including waters that may carry pollution downstream directly or through another water (including rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, ponds or wetlands) that are natural, man-altered, or man-made. The flow of these tributaries may be continuous, perennial, intermittent or ephemeral. Previously unregulated ephemeral, as well as intermittent and perennial, streams now receive CWA protections. According to EPA, ephemeral and intermittent streams are sources of drinking water to one in three Americans. EPA has also asserted that the rule streamlines the definition of adjacency and clarifies that ditches that carry ephemeral flow will not be regulated.

In addition, the rule includes adjacent waters that are contiguous, bordering or neighboring to navigable or interstate waters or territorial seas. In a change from the proposed rule, the agencies in the final rule also assert jurisdiction over wetlands adjacent to tributaries of navigable waters for the first time by defining how far they are located from a navigable water or its tributary. This would include riparian areas and floodplains associated with the water.

Permits are required when pollutants, dredged or fill materials, or other discharges are released into the waters of the U.S. For example, moving dirt, mowing grass, applying or using chemicals, working with metals, or most any industrial activity could result in a potential discharge of a pollutant into a regulated water and trigger the need for a federal permit. This could include water quality standards total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), oil and spill prevention programs, NPDES permits, stormwater discharges, and dredge and fill permits.

The impact of the final rule has potential impacts on many activities. It is likely that some industry groups will file a legal challenge of the final rule. In addition, legislative proposals are circulating in Congress to overturn or modify this new rule, but passage of such legislation is uncertain.

If you have any questions on this rule and its potential impacts on your operations or you would like additional information, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.

Posted in Law & Regulation