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Lansing State Journal Viewpoint: Stop wasting energy and capture low-cost power for Michigan

Imagine if every time you stopped to buy gas, you spilled two gallons for every one you put in the tank. That’s exactly what happens with energy wasted at factories and power plants across Michigan and the rest of the country: for every barrel of oil or ton of coal burned to generate power, two-thirds of the potential energy is lost – enough energy lost nationwide to power the entire country of Japan.

What if we could capture that lost energy and use it, thereby increasing the efficiency of Michigan’s power plants and factories? Well, there are commercial technologies that do just that; they capture waste energy, the best clean energy source available. Combined heat and power (CHP) produces both heat and power from a single source of fuel, which provides double the efficiency of traditional power generation. Waste heat to power (WHP) captures waste heat that would typically be vented from an industrial facility and uses it to make electricity without additional fuel or emissions. Both of these “cogeneration” technologies dramatically lower energy use, emissions, and costs; thereby creating jobs, increasing private investment, and improving the competitiveness of Michigan businesses.

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Michigan’s Chemical Industry Essential for “Green” Cars

It’s no secret that the U.S. auto industry is riding a major hot streak, with car sales surpassing more than 17 million last year. American automakers are turning out loads of innovative new models that deliver not only performance, style, and comfort - but increasingly, environmental sustainability. This year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) offers plenty of proof that consumers are demanding “green” cars, and that automakers are turning to chemistry for the solutions.

Michigan’s chemical industry has long been a key supplier to Detroit. Chemicals are essential in the production of automotive adhesives, coatings, plastics, composites, batteries, rubbers, fluids, and many other components. In fact, the average vehicle made in the U.S. and Canada already contains over $3,500 in chemistry products. As automakers strive for improved environmental performance, many of Michigan’s chemical companies are stepping up to meet these sustainability challenges.

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Rover Pipeline dEIS

On February 19th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) that assesses the potential environmental effects of the Rover natural gas pipeline project, as well as details for the next hearings the agency will hold in communities in our state.

The release of the draft EIS is a step in the right direction toward final approval of this important project. The Rover pipeline represents a tremendous opportunity to create jobs and provide our country with energy security. The pipeline will create 10,000 local construction jobs and provide $4.2 billion of investment into state and local economies.

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Pipeline Would Fuel Michigan’s Chemical Industry

One could say that the chemical manufacturing industry makes the world go round. More than 96 percent of all manufactured goods are directly touched by the business of chemistry. Every new home built in the U.S. contains over $15,000 of chemistry products, while every light car produced in the U.S. contains over $3,500 of chemistry products.

For Michigan, home of America’s major automakers and the 13th-largest chemical-producing state in the nation, the chemical industry is particularly vital. At $15.5 billion, chemistry is the third-largest manufacturing sector in Michigan.  Chemical manufacturing provides approximately 30,000 direct jobs and another 90,000 related jobs in Michigan, including more than 34,000 jobs in plastics and rubber products.

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MCC and ACC offer comments on boosting plastics recycling in Michigan

In 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a statewide plan to double Michigan's residential recycling rate, and tasked the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) with developing strategies to boost recycling in the state. Key components of the Governor's plan include improving measurement, education, access, and marketing. The Governor's Recycling Council is a nine-member panel formed as part of the plan to advise the DEQ.

To provide input to the Governor's Recycling Council on the issue of plastics recycling, the Michigan Chemistry Council (MCC) and American Chemistry Council (ACC) provided comments on January 12th, 2016. The comments note the significant nationwide increases in plastics recycling and discuss proven strategies to achieve further gains in Michigan. The comments also urge the adoption of a sustainable materials management approach that combines recycling with other approaches and technologies to reduce overall environmental impacts.

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2015 Statistical Report on Michigan's Chemical Industry

How large is it, and what is its composition?

How has it changed over time?

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Barnes & Thornburg memo - Sep 2015 - U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan for Existing Electric-Generating Units in Michigan

The following is a brief outline summarizing the key elements of the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan from a Michigan perspective, prepared for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Environmental Affairs Committee Meeting on September 22, 2015.

Please click here for the full memo.

Barnes & Thornburg Alert - June 2015 - EPA Eliminates Another Source of Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction Exemptions from Clean Air Act

EPA finalizes demand for 36 states to remove automatic SSM exemptions from SIPs, no later than Nov. 22, 2016.

Neither EPA nor the states may provide facilities with an affirmative defense for Clean Air Act violations that would alter the jurisdiction of the federal courts to assess civil penalties.

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Part 121 Amendments Update

On Tuesday, June 16th, a package of Senate bills (SB 400, 401, and 402) was introduced to implement changes to the Part 121 Liquid Industrial Waste Rules. These changes are a product of a stakeholder workgroup formed to address an ORR recommendation that the DEQ streamline the process of handling these materials. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.

The MCC and member company representatives participated in the stakeholder process to develop these recommendations. Please let us know as soon as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns about the changes.

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2015 Annual Meeting Highlights

We have posted updates, presentations, and pictures from our 2015 Annual Meeting, which took place on Wednesday, May 13th at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing.

Please click here for the details!

OSHA Releases HCS Interim Enforcement Guidelines

On Friday, May 29th, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a memo (attached) detailing its interim enforcement guidance for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) labeling requirements, effective today, Monday June 1st.

The memo clarifies that manufacturers and importers will not be cited if able to demonstrate reasonable diligence and good faith efforts to obtain classification information from upstream suppliers or alternative sources. Also, existing stock that has been packaged for shipment prior to June 1st may continue to be shipped downstream with no requirement to re-label such containers.

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Barnes & Thornburg alert - May 2015 - June 1: OSHA’s Revised Hazard Communication Standard Deadline for Compliance

On June 1, 2015, OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) goes into effect.

Any employer that uses hazardous chemicals in its workplace is subject to the communication and training requirements of the HCS.

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New Storage Tank Rule Requirements clarifications

Please click here for a printable version of this bulletin.

Please click here for a frequently-asked-questions resource on this issue.

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Barnes & Thornburg alert - May 2015 - EPA and Army Corp of Engineers Pass Rule Clarifying “Waters of the U.S.” Authority

EPA has finalized a rule that purportedly clarifies the definition of “waters of the U.S” and therefore affects the applicability of all Clean Water Act programs.

EPA’s rulemaking has been the subject of national attention, with more than 1 million total comments received - some for and some against the rule.

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March 3 - Michigan Chemistry Council 2015 Policy Priorities

The Michigan Chemistry Council's 2015 Policy Priorities may be found by clicking here.

The Michigan Chemistry Council's 2015 Energy Policy Agenda may be found by clicking here.