Subcommittee Reviews Bill to Boost Manufacturing and Job Growth

May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), held a hearing today to review draft text of the Promoting New Manufacturing Act. This legislation is a key component of the committee’s effort to build the Architecture of Abundance, by facilitating construction of new factories and other energy intensive projects. In his 2014  State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted how America’s new abundance of natural gas supplies could help support a manufacturing renaissance and stressed the need to cut bureaucratic red tape in order to advance manufacturing projects. The bill works toward that goal by advancing timely issuance of air permits under the Clean Air Act’s preconstruction permitting program known as the New Source Review (NSR).

“America is experiencing an energy revolution that has the potential to transform our economy beyond just the energy sector. Our energy abundance holds great potential for our manufacturers and other energy intensive industries, yet red tape is still a major barrier to new projects and holding back investment. This legislation will facilitate timely permitting for new projects and expansions so we can unleash America’s energy potential, build more factories, and create more jobs,” said Whitfield.

The Promoting New Manufacturing Act will improve the permitting process for new U.S. factories and expansions by:

  • Increasing transparency by requiring EPA to publish the total number of major NSR preconstruction permits issued annually, the percentage of permits issued within one year of submittal of a completed application, and the average length of the review process;
  • Requiring EPA to provide guidance coinciding with new standards affecting the permit process so businesses understand how to comply; and
  • Directing EPA to provide an annual report to Congress highlighting the actions the agency is taking to expedite the permitting process.

Lorraine Gershman, Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs at the American Chemistry Council, explained the urgent need for legislation, stating, “As of this week, 177 chemical industry projects valued at $112 billion in potential new U.S. investment have been announced. Fully 62% of this is foreign direct investment. By 2023, the new investments could generate tens of billions in new chemical industry exports and hundreds of thousands of permanent new jobs. All of these projects must undergo a lengthy and complex environmental permitting process filled with challenges that could derail the investment.”

Ross Eisenberg, Vice President at the National Association of Manufacturers, praised the committee’s efforts to address permitting challenges and said, “The boom in domestic energy production – in particular, increased oil and gas production made possible by advances in shale technology – is a driving major new investment in domestic manufacturing and contributing to increased U.S. competitiveness around the world. With U.S. manufacturing on the verge of a major comeback fueled by a dominant position on energy, there is no better time than now for the subcommittee to examine the existing air permitting process to determine whether and how it can be improved.”

Managing Partner for Global Air Services at Environmental Resources Management Kenneth Weiss explained, “This legislation will remove much uncertainty and related schedule delays from the air emissions permitting process for major capital projects and help ensure continued growth in manufacturing in the United States.”

Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, also testified in support of the draft bill, and stated, “Bringing greater transparency and accountability to the New Source Review preconstruction permit program is one way both parties can work together to fully revitalize manufacturing and strengthen U.S. competitiveness.”  

Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “The U.S. has all the ingredients to strengthen our domestic manufacturing dominance. We have the affordable energy supply to run our factories, especially our growing abundance of natural gas. We have private investors willing to invest billions of dollars on new projects in America. We have a workforce that is second to none but many of whom need jobs. And we have the technical knowledge to build manufacturing facilities that are the cleanest and most efficient in the world. All we need is a regulatory process that will allow it to happen.”

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