Solid waste legislation: a battle for survival (American Cast Metals Association to lobby on renewal of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)
When foundry executives describe the most important issues facing their businesses, they invariably mention environmental regulations and Environmental Protection Agency action that seems biased against the metalcasting industry. Their concerns are not misplaced.
As most metalcasters are aware, the environment is experiencing a resurgence as a major issue on the American agenda. It has assumed an even more prominent place in the media and on the political landscape than it did at the inception of the ecology movement 25 years ago.
From the vantage point of foundry industry lobbyists in Washington, D.C., it seems that environmentalists are having a field day. Fueled by the fact that environmentalism is a "hot" topic in public opinion polls, environmental groups have gone on the offensive. Their efforts, it is predicted, could severely impact industries like metalcasting.
The "greening" of America, this heightened sensitivity and interest in environmental issues, is nowhere more evident than in the nation's capital. This year, an environmentalist president and an election-year Congress teamed up to push forward the most sweeping revision of air pollution legislation ever: the new Clean Air Act. With its passage a certainty this year, Congress then will turn its attention to item number two on its environmental agenda: solid waste disposal. The vehicle Congress will use to restructure the manner in which solid waste is handled will be the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
The stage has been set for high drama and political posturing - a potentially damaging outcome for foundries. Essentially, the EPA has given up on the issue of solid waste, and turned it over to Congress. The public already has been sensitized to the solid waste issue by media coverage of "garbage barges" and the growing landfill crisis.
In short, the pressure will be on Congress to tighten disposal restrictions, increase disposal fees/taxes, mandate more recycling and promote waste minimization.
ACMA's Government Affairs Div believes the industry must develop a strategic plan to exert its influence over next year's solid waste legislation. Legislation must be consistent with the organization's mission, which is to identify and monitor proposed and pending legislation of importance to the foundry industry, and to develop action that mobilizes industry support and resources at the national level.
The foundation of ACMA's solid waste action plan will be an accurate representation of foundry waste generation as it exists today, and which does not exist. This is where the experts at foundries come in.
It is time for the industry to marshal its professionals on foundry waste - not just staff experts from the industry's trade associations but hands-on experts working in the industry every day. In other words, ACMA needs working foundrymen to help build a strong, credible case to present to Congress. Only foundrymen know the answers to the questions that remain unanswered about foundry solid waste, such as: * How much solid waste is generated by the industry? * What are current disposal practices? * What are current disposal costs?
The answers to these key questions are known only by each foundry. Therefore, a comprehensive study will be undertaken to systematically gather important individual foundry data and form a composite picture of the total industry.
Much money and effort have already been invested by the industry for the technical research to justify the safety of foundry sand and its practically as a recyclable product and not merely a waste. However, this planned study is essential if ACMA is to demonstrate at the federal level that the industry's position represents a way to safely recycle significant quantities of waste that will free sizeable amounts of landfill space.
Such a study would allow ACMA to build a strong, credible case to present to Congress, and would form the foundation of its program to influence the form and content of the RCRA/solid waste legislation itself. Additionally, the data gathered can be accessed and used in future rule-making with both federal and state EPAs as well as by state foundry associations in their lobbying efforts.
A Starting Point
To gather the essential data, ACMA and the American Foundrymen's Society plan to present to foundrymen this fall a questionnaire designed to assemble the information the industry needs to state its case relative on the pending solid waste legislation. This survey represents the starting point of the industry's first attempt to collect aggregate information from the industry on quantities of solid waste generated, disposal practices and related costs.
The survey's objectives relate directly to the formation of a pro-active legislative strategy by gathering the necessary information and statistics and organizing them into a persuasive and effective lobbying tool. The two objectives of the survey include:
First, gather benchmark data and information on: * foundry sand purchasing patterns; * industry sand usage (quantities); * solid waste generation (types and
quantities); * current state regulations and taxes on
solid waste disposal; * essential related foundry statistics
(employment, metal production, casting
Second, develop an understanding of foundry practices regarding: * solid waste disposal; * solid waste minimization; * sand reclamation; * beneficial sand reuse (past, current
To effectively and efficiently gather this essential information, two things must be accomplished: * convince participants of a the need for
this survey and for the information they
are asked to provide; * convince participants that this approach
to the problem is thorough, professional
and, above all, confidential.
Clearly, the cooperation and trust of each person and firm is crucial to making this survey and all efforts to influence the RCRA bill a success. Therefore, confidentiality is absolutely and unconditionally guaranteed to all foundries that complete survey questionnaires.
Confidentiality is crucial to the validity of the survey to ensure that all answers be as factual as possible. Those surveyed will be asked to respond as accurately as possible, since understating the amount of foundry waste generated, overstating the costs involved or mistating disposal practices will mislead Congress on this legislation's potential impact and cost to the foundry industry.
A Team Effort
In short, the issue of "source credibility" could make this the most effective study of its kind ever conducted for or by the industry. All of the survey research experts at ACMA's Des Plaines, IL, office, and the technical experts at AFS and various state foundry associations will form the core group assembling the survey and compiling its results. Such a team approach was successful in implementing passage of the Metal Casting Research Center bill, and will be essential to the success of the survey.
In addition, the study is being designed to exceed the federal government's stringent standards for survey research so that ACMA and AFS may have the utmost confidence in the accuracy of the results. That means that a statistically valid group of foundries will be selected as a sample to survey. In this way, it ensured that the group of foundries surveyed will be as representative of the entire industry as is possible in a sample group.
Selected foundries will be contacted by mail to brief them on the types of questions and issues being addressed. The actual survey data will be gathered during telephone interviews to ensure timely, cost-effective and accurate information.
Once all the interviews are complete and the data are in, everything will be checked for accuracy and completeness. Answers will be coded for data entry, aggregated and computer-tabulated. These tabulations will yield the information needed for the industry in total and for key foundry states as well.
Based on this data and the industry's position on solid waste, targeted information and persuasion documents will be prepared for a variety of audiences, including survey participants, member foundries, Congress and its staffs, state legislators, state and federal regulators and others.
Armed with the facts regarding quantities, disposal practices, costs and possible beneficial reuses, congressional liaison staffs can begin the process of educating legislators about the nature and reuse possibilities of foundry byproducts. ACMA's presentation of the data to Congress will be an extremely effective means of communicating the industry's position.
Ideally, the results of the survey will influence Congress, as the mandator of recycling targets, to recognize and include foundry waste sand as a material with beneficial, constructive uses rather than as an occupier of scarce, costly space in the nation's landfills. A second objective is to have Congress establish incentives and recycling targets for states and municipalities to encourage and facilitate the collection, storage and use of foundry waste sand for beneficial purposes.
Only by preparing for the battle now can we effectively impact the course of next year's solid waste legislation. Environmental issues are here to stay. The other side is fully staffed and well-prepared to present its case. Our key to success is to initially construct and present our own well-researched case to Congress. Additionally, we will need to work toward positively effecting the course of this legislation through education, information and grass roots lobbying.
Your trade associations will have done what they can by identifying the looming legislative issue of solid waste and by designing a study to help us prepare for the upcoming battle. The rest, including providing us with the information and expertise regarding foundry waste, is up to you. Ultimately, you will bear the costs and the legal burden of whatever Congress mandates next year.
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|Date:||Sep 1, 1990|
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