Outlook on the Federal Regulatory Agenda: A Tectonic Shift in Washington

The Trump Administration and Republican leaders in Congress have launched 2017 with several early actions on an agenda that, if implemented, would represent a tectonic shift in the U.S. regulatory landscape, particularly in the areas of environment, labor, health and safety.

Nominees and Advisors

The president’s nominees to head key agencies – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency and burger chain executive Andy Puzder for Department of Labor – are widely known critics of the federal bureaucracy and government overreach. Pruitt led states’ efforts in recent years in major lawsuits against EPA. Puzder, who battled regulation in California, has warned that overly strict labor laws will lead employers to replacing workers with machines. Both nominees are now awaiting Senate confirmation.

The president also recently named activist investor and billionaire Carl Icahn as his special advisor on regulatory overhaul. He promised a regulatory moratorium and a rollback of key Obama Administration executive orders and memos on a host of topics. That’s exactly what’s transpired since Trump took office.

The President’s EPA transition team chief, libertarian think-tank advocate Myron Ebell, recently called the environment movement “the greatest threat to freedom.” He suggested last week that EPA’s budget should be cut by two-thirds, from 15,000 to 5,000 employees.

Executive Orders and a Regulatory Freeze

The President just this week signed an executive order promising that going forward for each new regulation issued, two old regulations would have to be eliminated. In announcing the policy, he noted “we’re cutting regulations massively for small business – and for large business” and that the annual impact on the economy of government rules would be “no greater than zero.”

The order follows an Inauguration Day memo from the President’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to all departments and agencies. The directive would freeze a number of recently finalized regulations for a 60-day review period. It also instructed agency heads to also consider delaying effective dates for regulations beyond the 60-day time period. The temporary moratorium on regulations is not uncommon for incoming presidents.

Indeed, several major rules that the Obama administration was speeding to the finishing line will be held up. Among them is the Department of Labor’s controversial overtime rule to boost worker pay, along with several EPA regulations.  Another on the slate is a rule to make hardrock mining operations show the financial ability to pay for contamination clean-up if closed. This is the first in a series of rules that EPA has anticipated would affect a range of industries in the future, including surface finishing.

Regulatory Reform Legislation on Capitol Hill

On Capitol Hill, Republicans with control of both legislative chambers on Capitol Hill have moved swiftly in the first few weeks of the new Congress to reshape the future of regulation. In its first week back in Washington, the House began action on and approved several regulatory relief bills, including:

  • the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) – requires Congress to approve any agency rule estimated to have more than a $100 million cost on the U.S. economy;
  • the Regulatory Accountability Act – requires agencies to complete a number of steps on a proposed rule, including weighing the direct and indirect costs and benefits of their rules on jobs and economic growth; and
  • the Midnight Rule Relief Act – allows Congress to repeal in a single vote any rule finalized in the last 60 legislative days of the Obama administration.

Since passage in the House, the Senate is now reviewing these measures, but Democrats have promised opposition there. The bills were passed by the House in earlier Congresses but were never previously acted on by the Senate.

In addition, House leaders have assembled a first short list of major Obama-era rules for repeal in the coming days. Republican leaders have promised to use their legal authority to scuttle the regulations under a rarely used legislative tool, the Congressional Review Act. The law, enacted in 1996, has been successfully invoked by Congress only once. In 2001, Republicans used it as President George W. Bush took office to overturn a major OSHA workplace ergonomics standard from the Clinton Administration.

EPA – Selected Regulatory Targets

Several major environmental regulations that the Trump administration has targeted for elimination, reform or delay include EPA’s Clean Power Plan to set carbon emission limits on power plants, the agency’s revised ozone standard and EPA’s controversial Clean Water Rule, which would determine which rivers, lakes, streams and ponds are subject to federal jurisdiction. The U.S. Supreme Court just this month agreed to hear arguments in litigation over the water rule. For surface finishing, EPA is still reviewing whether to propose tighter wastewater discharge limits for the industry, and NASF will continue to work closely with EPA and the Trump administration to inform the agency’s decision.

Department of Labor and OSHA – Selected Regulatory Targets

One of the most controversial labor regulations advanced by the Obama Administration has been the overtime rule. The rule, which would have raised the salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay, was blocked by a Texas district court judge just before it went into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. Both the incoming White House and Republicans in Congress have argued the rule should be scrapped, along with a growing list of other Obama-era labor rules and decisions from DOL, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

On workplace safety matters, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s efforts to make major changes in recordkeeping and reporting for business have been opposed by a range of industry groups, including NASF. Among these have been OSHA’s final electronic reporting rule to put injury and illness records of employers on the internet, and the agency’s pending final rule that would allow OSHA to cite employers for alleged injury and illness recordkeeping violations up to five years old, an extension much longer than the current limit of six months.

It’s only January, and a profound shift is underway in Washington. The regulatory agenda will be in a center spotlight this year, along with further action on tax reform, trade, immigration, health care and infrastructure. NASF has been closely engaged at the agencies and will continue to monitor and inform decisions that impact the industry as the year unfolds.  Look for new updates on specific issues in play in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we look forward to having you join us for the NASF Washington Forum in the nation’s capital on Apr. 25-27, 2017. For more information, go to www.nasf.org.


Posted in Business, Government Relations, International, Law & Regulation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just a Few Great Reasons to Attend SUR/FIN in Atlanta…

The NASF SUR/FIN show floor is already 80% sold out as of January, and we look forward to a record-setting event in Atlanta on June 19-21, 2017.

Here are some great reasons to attend SUR/FIN this year…

LEARN – Choose from 80 informative conference presentations, education and training courses and other technical presentations to keep you informed and remain competitive in your market.

From the Sustainability Summit and Automotive and Defense/Aerospace Forums to Coatings for Electronics and other topics, the SUR/FIN Conference Program will give you the latest, most relevant information available in surface technology industry.

Scott Fetter of Lockheed Martin will kick off the Sustainability Summit with a keynote presentation on Monday, June 19, and more speakers will be announced soon. Don’t miss your chance to hear from Scott and other experts from a range of backgrounds give insights and strategies to succeed in the industry in 2017.

COLLABORATE – Join more than 1,200 knowledgeable professionals from key industries such as aerospace, automotive and more

The southeast region’s automotive, aerospace and broader manufacturing presence continues to grow and provide opportunities for domestic and international surface finishing. SUR/FIN has not been located in the southeast for many years, so NASF is excited at the opportunity to welcome new attendees and exhibitors to Atlanta.

EXPERIENCE – Meet nearly 200 exhibitors with information on the latest innovations and solutions to address your most challenging surface technology issues.  The show floor is already 80% sold out as of January, and we look forward to a record-setting meeting and show in Atlanta

A few early announcements are below with more ahead in the coming months…

New Start Time for SUR/FIN Conference Sessions
Monday, June 19th @ 10:00 am

Attendees and exhibitors alike will be interested to know that the SUR/FIN schedule has been revamped. SUR/FIN’s Manufacturing & Technology Conference will now begin at 10:00 AM on Monday, June 19. Starting the Conference sessions earlier will allow attendees more time on the show floor on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

Industry Night Event
The College Football Hall of Fame

While SUR/FIN is full of great networking opportunities, we are particularly excited about this year’s Industry Night event, which will take place at the College Football Hall of Fame. The venue is conveniently located right next door to the Georgia World Congress Center. More details will be available soon on what is sure to be an enjoyable evening for everyone!

SUR/FIN registration will soon be open at NASFsurfin.com.

Posted in Business, Events, NASF National

With Trump Regulatory Freeze, NASF Watching New EPA Superfund Clean-Up Rule’s Impact on Surface Finishing

With the Trump administration’s aggressive focus on regulatory overhaul, one of several dozen issues the NASF has been watching is an otherwise obscure rule for the hardrock mining industry. But in early December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new Superfund cleanup rule that NASF members should watch closely. The new proposal stems from an agency hazardous waste initiative under the Obama Administration that covers surface finishing as well as several other manufacturing sectors.

The latest proposed rule, which industry anticipated throughout 2016, would subject hard rock mining companies to a determination of future cleanup responsibilities and require each company to obtain bonds or insurance or self-assure to cover the cost of that clean up.

This is an important development for NASF members and finishing operations nationwide. A few years ago, EPA listed metal finishing on the list of sectors that would be targeted for what would be new, extremely burdensome requirements under the federal Superfund law that could potentially bankrupt both small and large companies.

NASF Has Advised Dropping Financial Assurance Requirements

NASF has been monitoring the rule’s progress for several years and held discussions with EPA, arguing that the agency’s approach was misguided on several fronts. EPA more recently expanded the metal finishing category to cover more facilities in the larger fabricated metals sector.

Outgoing EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, who heads the federal hazardous waste program, argues that the agency’s approach of requiring a company to secure a bond, letter of credit or other financial assurance mechanisms would lead to more cleanups in the United States.

“This proposed rule, once finalized, would move the financial burden from taxpayers and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups,” Stanislaus said. “The proposed rule would also give companies an economic incentive to use environmentally protective practices that can help prevent future releases.”

Mining Industry Shared “Case Study” with NASF Members in Washington

This past year, attendees at the NASF Washington Forum heard from National Mining Association’s Tawny Bridgeford, who highlighted the mining industry’s experience as a “case study.” She noted that the onerous EPA requirements in the pipeline for miners would severely impact surface finishing facilities if the rules weren’t curbed early in the process.

The proposed rule, which was moving to proposal stage in December, formally identified the next group of sectors in the pipeline for financial assurance rules, specifically electric power generation, transmission and distribution, and petroleum and coal products manufacturing.

The agenda of the new Trump administration will clearly have some bearing on the outcome of the mining and other regulations during 2017. Because the agency released its proposal so late in the year, the new temporary regulatory moratorium just announced by the White House over inauguration weekend is expected to delay and possibly derail it. More shortly.

Posted in Business, Government Relations, International, Law & Regulation | Tagged , , , , ,

Only a Few Spaces Remain for the NASF Leadership Conference

February 26 – March 2, 2017 |  Naples, Florida
Register today for the NASF Leadership Conference! This year is a great opportunity to meet with industry peers, share knowledge and gain new insights to help you achieve both your business and personal goals. Our host hotel, LaPlaya Resort, is quickly filling up and only a few spots remain to attend.

Lee CockerellKeynote Lee Cockrell will speak on “How to Deliver World Class Service” and “Increasing Your Productivity in Business and Life.” Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney Resort.

Complete information can be found on the NASF Leadership Conference website. For questions or assistance with registration or hotel arrangements, please us at info@nasf.org.

Posted in Events, NASF National

NASF Launches New Member Partnership with the Automotive Industry Action Group

Get an advantage with a free membership with AIAG
if you join NASF this year!

In an effort to further strengthen our commitment to providing an advantage for our members, NASF has partnered with the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) to provide NASF members FREE, unlimited access to knowledge assessments, training, standards and best practices in the areas of quality, materials management & sustainability.

We highly encourage you and your colleagues to familiarize yourselves with AIAG by visiting their website. In fact, we are committed to working with AIAG to shape and guide the automotive industry, and we would like to invite you to work with us to become a member of AIAG. Through NASF’s new member program, AIAG is providing a free membership for most NASF corporate members whose total annual revenue is under $20 million. If you meet these criteria, your AIAG membership is free and will be locked in for five years!

To see if you qualify for free membership, contact NASF Membership Director Matt Martz at mmartz@nasf.org.

Even if you don’t qualify for a sponsored membership, the process improvements you get from using the industry-developed best practices exponentially outweigh the small membership investment. Memberships in AIAG are corporate; when your company joins, everyone in your company is a member and has:

  • FREE and unlimited access to Quality Core Tools e-documents (PPAP, APQP, SPC,MSA, and FMEA) and online training
  • Unlimited access to both practitioner and enterprise knowledge self-assessments, guidance documents, best practices and associated e-Learnings
  • Access to ALL technical committees, work groups and subject matter experts
  • Opportunities to collaborate and build relationships with customers, peers and competitors
  • Member discounts for training, events and networking sessions produced by AIAG

We are excited about NASF’s partnership with AIAG and the advantage it brings to your company.

For more information or an information packet, please contact NASF Membership Director Matthew Martz at mmartz@nasf.org.

Posted in Business, NASF National

NASF Board of Directors Welcomes New Members, Elects 2017 Officers

Board of Directors - new membersThe NASF Board of Directors recently kicked of the 2017 year with their first quarterly meeting in Atlanta. The Board welcomes three new members:  Waasy Boddison of American Plating Power, Jeff Brassard of Palm International and Charles Morgan of Triple Cities Metal Finishing.  In addition, the following members have been elected for another two-year term: Steve Brown of Broco Products, Curtis Goad of the GOAD Company, Brian Harrick of KC Jones Plating, Bernie Haviland of Haviland Products Company, Brad Majoy of Pavco and Jim Miille of Chemical Solutions.

The NASF Board of Directors discussed a goals for the year, a variety of new initiatives and upcoming events, including Leadership Conference and Washington Forum. While in Atlanta, they spent additional time reviewing preparations for the SUR/FIN Manufacturing & Technology Trade Show & Conference, taking place in June in Atlanta, and how it will support NASF’s Surface Technology Initiative through education, advocacy, networking and enhanced membership value.

New officers for 2017 Executive Committee were also elected at the January Board meeting. Please join us is thanking these individuals for their leadership and service to NASF.

  • President: Paul Brancato, Epner Technology
  • Vice President: Brian Harrick, KC Jones Plating
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Steve Brown, BroCo Products
  • Member at Large: Bernie Haviland, Haviland Products
  • Immediate Past President: Erik Weyls, Coventya

Posted in Events, NASF National

Bright Design West Coast Winners Announced!

Bright Design West Coast supported fourteen students as they brought innovative ideas to surface finishing . NASF, MFASC and MFANC teamed up to sponsor the Challenge for the seventh year with the Pasadena Art School of Design. Final presentations took place on Dec. 14, 2016, with $15,000 in scholarships being awarded.

First place went to Sunny Innsun Park for her design of UNION key. Anthony Fernandez and Rosalia Hosseinzadeh also received awards for their projects Ascender and Iridess, respectively.

We’d like to extend special thanks to our judges: Ray Lucas, Vince Noonan, Justin Guzman and MFASC President Wesley Turnbow. Alan Olick of General Brite Plating and Bryan Leiker of K&L Anodizing also supported the competition by providing the surface finishing processes for all student projects this year.

Look for updates on the Detroit Bright Design Challenge, kicking off this week, and the 2017 West Coast Challenge to begin in early September.


Posted in Education, Events, NASF Chapters, NASF National