Record Attendance at the 28th Annual EHS Seminar & Trade Show

By Hector L. Rivero, President & CEO, Texas Chemical Council and Association of Chemical Industry of Texas.

Thank you to all of our members who attended the 28th Annual Texas-Louisiana Environmental, Health, & Safety (EHS) Seminar and Trade Show. This year’s event saw record attendance with over 1100 participants and a very successful trade show.

The EHS Seminar is the premiere environmental, health, and safety seminar for the petrochemical industry and related industries. Our seminar is developed by industry safety professionals for industry safety professionals. Our mission is to provide education to foster personal growth and development for attendees and improve the performance of their organizations while enhancing the image of the chemical industry. This year’s Seminar featured 3 keynote speakers, 4 training courses, and 100 technical sessions with 107 speakers on a variety of topics including air, water, safety, health and wellness, security, PSM, energy, industrial incidents and emergency response. Our sessions and presenters got high marks from attendee evaluations and our exhibitors said it was a great show with quality leads.

Attendees had access to the latest safety training, regulatory insights, and industry best practices. They heard from some of the best and brightest safety experts in the country, learned about the latest products and services from nearly 140 exhibitors at our Industry Trade Show, and network with industry peers.

The Seminar also had great participation from government agencies, including: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

As always, we thank our EHS Seminar Committee for putting together an outstanding Seminar this year. A special thanks to Malinda Tange of INEOS Olefins & Polymers – Chocolate Bayou who chaired this years Seminar Committee.

Thanks to everyone for a very successful 2015 EHS Seminar and Trade Show and we look forward to reaching even more industry professionals next year.

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EPA Proposed Ozone Standard is Costly & Absurd

By Hector L. Rivero, President & CEO, Texas Chemical Council and Association of Chemical Industry of Texas.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it would pursue stricter federal standards for ground-level ozone. Today, the standard for compliance is 75 parts per billion (ppb). If EPA has its way, the new standard will be set between 65 ppb and 70 ppb, but the agency has said it will consider and take comments on a standard as low as 60 ppb.  EPA published its proposal in the Federal Register on December 17, and will be taking comments on the proposed standard for 90 days: through March 17, 2015. While the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to revisit the ozone standard every 5 years, a change is not mandated; and why would the EPA push the goal line further away when so many non-attainment areas have not yet met the current standard.
Meeting a new EPA ozone standard has broad implications for local communities and will impact economic development. At best, a new “non-attainment” designation for a community will result in costly planning and new burdensome regulatory requirements. Of greater concern, a new standard could stymie new investment opportunities and result in lost jobs and lost tax base.

There are currently 18 Texas counties in non-attainment that are above the 75 ppb standard.  These counties have seen costly regulatory requirements that impact our everyday lives, including speed limit reductions, restrictions on outdoor barbeque pits, restricted use of lawn-care equipment, and restrictions on recreational watercraft and other off-road vehicles.   Under a lower ozone standard of even 70 ppb, every major city in Texas would be in non-attainment. This classification would significantly limit new sources of emissions in the affected region, essentially hitting the pause button on our economy.

Consider for a moment a new report that highlights the sheer absurdity of what EPA is proposing. An investigation by the American Action Forum found that at least one hundred national and state parks would not meet a lower EPA ozone standard. Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Park and Cape Cod National Seashore all have ozone readings between 71 and 87 ppb. Even an air monitor in the Wyoming portion of Yellowstone National Park yielded an ozone reading of 63 ppb. If carefully preserved national parks – with no industry and very few vehicles – can’t manage to meet EPA’s new ozone standard, what hope does a community have for any economic growth?

Enormous Cost
The EPA’s new ozone regulation could be the most expensive ever issued on the American public, costing the nation $270 - $360 billion annually. This regulation would not only impact the chemical industry, but could increase costs for households in Texas and result in 182,347 lost jobs, according to a new study by NERA Economic Consulting and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Cities, towns and rural areas across the United States would see reduced economic growth as unachievable permitting requirements prevent businesses from expanding or considering new operations. Local and state governments would have to impose costly new vehicle inspection programs that include an annual tailpipe emission test. Manufacturers would need to make technical and formula changes to their products and pay for replacement equipment.
These regulations could cost Texas hundreds of billions of dollars to reduce emissions to federally required levels. The EPA has identified only 52 percent of the controls needed to meet the standard. The remaining 48 percent of reductions would have to be met with unknown controls that the EPA has not yet identified but which would likely have to include early shutdowns and scrapping of existing manufacturing facilities, equipment and vehicles.

Moving Target
Across Texas and our nation, air quality continues to improve, and NOx emissions are already down nearly 60 percent nationwide since 1980, which, after adjusting for economic growth, implies a 90 percent reduction in emission rates since 1990 for NOx-emitting sources. Meanwhile, the existing 2008 ozone standard has not been achieved by the state’s non-attainment areas. It’s as if the referees are moving the goal line in the middle of the football game. With all the progress we’ve made and the recent economic recovery being seen in Texas and across the U.S., now is not the time to move the regulatory target— not at these costs.

The danger that Texas faces only underscores what is becoming more and more clear: that the EPA is not only setting U.S. environmental policy, but the agency is in fact impacting American economic policy.

By issuing standards that are impossible to meet and that have no measurable impact to human health and air quality, the EPA is over-reaching and jeopardizing our nation’s economic recovery.

By the numbers…
What Could New Ozone Regulations Cost Texas?
- $48 Billion Loss in Gross State Product from 2017 to 2040
- 182,347 Lost Jobs or Job Equivalents annually
- $113 Billion in Compliance Costs
- $970 Reduction in Average Household Consumption per Year
- $10 Billion increase for Residents to Own/Operate a personal Vehicle (2017 to 2040)
- 15 Percent increase in Residential Electricity Prices (National Average)
- 32 Percent increase in Residential Natural Gas Prices (National Average)
- Shutdown of 28 Percent of Texas’s Coal-Fired Electric Generating Capacity

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