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While Activists Make Wild Claims, the NAM’s Testimony Underscores Laudable Environmental Progress

Activists, profit-seeking attorneys and left-leaning politicians are pulling out all the stops to go after manufacturers in America, claiming that they are doing so out of concern for the environment. But what they miss is the incredible progress manufacturers have made to be more sustainable and more efficient in order to reduce our environmental footprint.

Ross Eisenberg, NAM vice president of energy and resources policy, testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on November 15, and underscored that progress. As part of a dialogue about ongoing efforts to reduce the footprint of America’s manufacturing sector, Eisenberg offered compelling data about the strides being made by manufacturers to decrease their footprints.

“Manufacturers have sharply reduced our impact on the environment through a wide range of innovations, such as increasing energy efficiency, saving and recycling water and implementing successful initiatives to reduce pollution and waste,” Eisenberg told the committee. “Through these traditional and innovative measures, manufacturers have helped to usher in a new era of a cleaner and more sustainable environment.”

For example, data show that national pollutant concentrations are down considerably since 1990, a period that spans four presidential administrations and fourteen different Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators. Concentrations of carbon monoxide concentrations are down 77 percent; lead 99 percent; nitrogen dioxide 54 percent; ozone 22 percent; coarse particulate matter 39 percent; fine particulate matter 37 percent; and sulfur dioxide 81 percent, according to official data.

“For virtually every air pollutant regulated by the EPA, the manufacturing sector has made dramatic reductions over the past few decades,” reported Eisenberg to the committee. “Today’s manufacturing company is a sleek, technology-driven operation that looks nothing like the industrial facilities of the past. With that progress has come a smaller environmental footprint.”

The same encouraging story is true with the industrial sector’s emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Since 1990, manufacturers have reduced their GHG emissions by 10 percent, all while increasing their value to the economy by 19 percent. The industrial sector actually produces less GHG emissions than it did in 1990, a considerably different story compared to the broader U.S. economy.[1] Much of this progress is attributable to a strong commitment by U.S. manufacturers to advancing technology, which leads to greater sustainability, increased energy efficiency, reduced emissions, limited waste and safer products. As Eisenberg definitively stated at the hearing, “We believe we should be acting on climate. Period.”

With such compelling and clear data available, it makes us wonder: what are environmental activist groups and lawyers really after when they criticize manufactures and try to label them with the ridiculous moniker of “public nuisance?”

It should be clear by now that the network of environmental activists, politically motivated public officials, agenda-driven media and deep-pocketed funders launching broad attacks against manufacturers care little for the truth. Rather, their goal is to make money and drive politically-motivated agendas.

“Manufacturers have established a strong record of environmental protection and strive to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations and to become more sustainable,” explained Eisenberg to lawmakers. “The results are already impressive, and they get better with each passing year.”

Hopefully lawmakers are able to see the truth despite the continued, concerted efforts to distort it.

[1] Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2015, available at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-02/documents/2017_complete_report.pdf.