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Myriad of issues confronts foundry industry.

A new administration and Congress are studying a wide range of legislation that will affect metalcasting.

"Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel."

Following these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, more than 160 foundry executives educated more than 120 new members of Congress while declaring their stand on the critical issues facing the metalcasting industry.

The following issues that will have a significant impact on foundries, were examined and the industry's position were presented to the new administration at the 1993 AFS Metalcasting Industry Government Affairs Conference February 28-March 2 in Washington, D.C.

Energy Tax Impact

The new comprehensive energy tax (based on Btu content), proposed in President Clinton's economic plan, will cost the foundry industry a minimum of $65.3 million per year, says Gary Mosher, AFS director of environmental affairs.

The figure is based on the proposed rate for coal and natural gas of $0.257 per 1 million Btu's, an industry usage rate of approximately 254 trillion Btu's per year (a Department of Energy estimate), and an annual production rate of 11.6 million tons of castings shipped.

This estimate also assumes that all energy used by foundries is either derived from coal as coke or from coal-fired electric utilities, or from natural gas or natural gas-fired electric utilities. If the energy is derived from oil, the cost will be significantly higher.

AFS Position: This broad-based energy tax is opposed because it would increase the cost of producing castings, making American foundries less competitive with its competitors worldwide.

Clean Water Act

Congress could continue debate in 1993 on provisions to revise the Clean Water Act (CWA), which could force additional changes in industrial processes and give the EPA authority to tell businesses how to make their products. Effluent fees were among the provisions of S. 1081, which was introduced but not enacted in the last Congress. There are two provisions of the bill that are of great concern to foundries.

S. 1081 would provide new funds to operate state programs through the imposition of fees for National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The owner of each NPDES permitted point source would have to pay an annual fee. This would amount to about $2500 for a "minor industrial point source," and $25,000-$125,000 per year for "major industrial point sources." EPA could collect the fees if a particular state's fee provision seemed inadequate. Failure to pay would result in a penalty of the fee plus 50% of the fee amount.

S. 1081 would also require environmental audits by facilities holding NPDES permits that are required to file SARA Title III section 313 reports. This would establish compliance with the NPDES permit, identify ways to improve and set up a timetable in which to do so, resulting in additional monitoring. This program would highlight multimedia violations. Criminal penalties would apply to failure to submit audits.

AFS Position: Reauthorization of the act could bring additional and costly amendments during a continuing period of limited resources and economic restraints. The CWA isn't broken, and costly revision isn't necessary. Before revising the act, closer examination should determine what discharges are actually harmful and at what level.

OSHA Reform

Major provisions from the proposed 1991 Comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health Reform Act (OSHA) are expected to remain. A renewed effort to overhaul and expand the OSHA act can be expected from the 103rd Congress with the support of a new administration, while the business-oriented U.S. Chamber of Commerce is drafting its own version of OSHA reform. If patterned after last year, the new OSHA reform bill may:

* require all employers to develop comprehensive health and safety plans and provide related training to employees;

* require all employers switch 10 or more employees to set up joint labor-management safety and health committees with evenly divided membership, with broad investigative authority, and with full pay for time spent on committee business;

* increase penalties and expand the categories of "criminal" behavior; prohibit firms from paying the fines or financing the defense of a manager charged with a criminal violation and mandate the timetable for OSHA issuance of many specific standards.

These elements perpetuate the philosophy that only through increased fines and penalties will employers provide their employees with safe and healthy work environments.

AFS Position: Any new legislation must revise the OSHA Act and recognize the physical variations which exist in America's workplaces. Different foundries use different techniques to achieve the same degree of safety and health protection and what works in one setting doesn't necessarily work in another.

Metalcasters also believe that OSHA reform should include a shift in resources from policing, confrontation and penalties toward cooperation, consultation and collaboration to help managers provide safe and healthy workplaces. The abatement process under this revised policy would be hastened considerably by a system emphasizing cooperation without disrupting the flexibility that foundries need to implement programs tailored specifically to their individual circumstances.

RCRA

Because of Congress' failure to strike a compromise on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and pass legislation last year, its environmental committees are shifting their attention to reauthorization of other major environmental statutes such as Superfund and the Clean Water Act. Some view RCRA as a back-burner issue now, but legislation on RCRA-related issues like interstate waste transport have already been introduced. Moreover, the environmental lobby continues to raise concerns on industrial nonhazardous waste, toxics-use reduction and recycling of secondary materials.

These and other factors on Capitol Hill make it entirely possible that the industry will see more action on RCRA during the 103rd Congress. The major difference this session is obviously the change in presidential administrations. While Clinton and Vice President Gore haven't commented, the atmosphere is one of greater receptivity to the environmental community's agenda.

AFS Position: RCRA is the principal federal statute governing the management of the nation's solid and hazardous waste. As an industry conserving valuable materials (scrap metal) and recycling raw materials (sand) in production processes, foundries are adversely impacted by recycling initiatives that pull inert materials into a hazardous waste-type regulatory scheme.

The industry opposes RCRA initiatives that place new regulatory burdens and unfair costs on foundries without considering the actual environmental impact of new regulations. Foundries are concerned with several elements of recent RCRA legislation and their potential to unnecessarily damage the industry: mandated toxic use reduction; restrictions on scrap metal consumers; and new requirements for industrial nonhazardous waste. Any new RCRA legislation should encourage the beneficial reuse of nonhazardous materials such as foundry sand and eliminate regulatory barriers at the state level relative to reuse of inert foundry waste.

Trade Adjustment Assistance

The U.S. Department of Commerce administers the TAA program through the Economic Development Administration. Authority for the program expires on September 30, 1993--meaning Congress must reauthorize the program this year or it will be eliminated.

The TAA funds 12 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers. They are nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations established to help firms qualify for and receive assistance in adjusting to import competition. Industries seeking TAA must demonstrate that they are injured by foreign trade and that the funded activities will yield some short-term actions that the industry will take toward the restoration of its international competitive position. The emphasis is on practical results that can be implemented in the near future.

AFS Position: Foundries support reauthorization and full funding of TAA programs. This program provides technical assistance to firms and industries adversely affected by increased imports, which focuses on the problems and/or opportunities in marketing, management, export promotion, production operations and technological innovations on an industry-wide basis.

The foundry industry has qualified for such assistance. AFS and the Steel Founders' Society of America (SFSA) have received technical assistance through this program. The SFSA program provides foundries with a thorough analysis of the current potential for North American steel castings in the European Economic Community. AFS is developing a program to review the technical, economic and political factors affecting foundries experimenting with alternative (lead-free) copper alloys for plumbing fittings.

Toxic Release Inventory

The Small Business Administration's (SBA) petition for exemption from Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements for small business is under review at the EPA with promulgation anticipated by the end of the year.

AFS Position: Foundrymen support the SBA petition to exclude small businesses that report insignificant amounts of toxic chemical releases from the annual TRI reporting requirement mandated under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Rightto-Know Act (EPCRA). This revision would reduce the burden on foundries, induce increased pollution-prevention and wouldn't diminish awareness on toxic chemicals in the community.

The location and presence of toxic chemicals in communities is already well documented. Other requirements in EPCRA such as Sections 311 and 312 reporting, ensure that communities receive toxic chemical information annually. This information, on a much longer list of chemicals than those listed under Section 313 is available to the public for review. Therefore, adding a release base threshold for Form R reporting doesn't diminish the public's awareness of toxic chemicals in their community.

Key Legislative Issues for '93

Shown here are the legislative issues of primary interest to the foundry industry and how AFS stands on each issue.

SUPPORT

* full appropriations for the DOE Metalcasting Research Program (P.L. 101-425).

* reauthorization and full funding of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, which provides our industry with technical assistance, marketing and export promotion.

* a permanent Research & Development tax credit to allow U.S. metalcasters to engage in basic and applied research needed to maintain a competitive edge in the domestic and international marketplace.

OPPOSE

* extensive changes to the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that will have a widespread impact on the industry.

* OSHA reform legislation suggesting that only through increased fines and penalties will employers provide their employees with safe and healthy work environments.

* a broad-based energy tax, since it would raise the cost of producing metal castings, making them less competitive in the global marketplace.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Management Report: Legislative Issues; includes related article
Author:Lessiter, Michael J.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Words:1661
Previous Article:Expect changes in labor and employment law.
Next Article:Mold inoculation of cast iron using pressed blocks.
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