Environmental Regulation And Manufacturing

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The debate over climate change has never been, for lack of a better term, hotter. On the one side, you have the scientific community, armed with studies and predictive models and tons of research that would paint the manufacturing industry as the main reason for heatwaves, melting polar ice caps and droughts. On the other side is the manufacturing industry, with their own research and studies that insist that the environment is subject to planetary fluctuations and swings in temperature both up and down and that this has always been and always will be part of living on planet Earth. Each presents a convincing argument and the only conclusion one can truly arrive at is that the data can be spun to reflect whatever the folks who paid for the studies want it to say.

Here in the United States, manufacturing is flourishing in a way it hasn’t in a very long time and the economy as a whole has directly benefited from this resurgence. Nobody, especially the current administration wants to stifle that growth, but the scientific community can be pervasive and has backers on both sides of the isle. Some manufacturers have been pressured into taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment, usually in response to some incentive or another or as the result of new legislation. New York state recently enacted ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Under this new legislation, the state as a whole must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 85% of 1990 emissions levels by the year 2050. This has some manufacturers wondering if they’ll be able to turn the lights on without running afoul of the new targeted emissions levels. The new rules are pretty vague about how reductions will be tracked or what penalties non-compliant companies will face. Details such as these will be determined by committees to be set up in the coming years.

Regardless of the reason, be it in the interest of compliance or a genuine interest in not killing the planet, manufacturers will need to toe the line to some degree when it comes to environmental regulation. It won’t be an easy road. Manufacturers instinctively distrust regulation. Any regulation that could impede production will be met with stiff resistance. The compromise lies in the ability to reduce environmental impact without hurting production.

This story is part of the article “Top Tends in Manufacturing” in this month’s Metals & Manufacturing Outlook eZine. For this month’s issue or to subscribe Click Here.