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In It for the Long Haul: C.H. Robinson Takes on Sustainability

It’s not every day that an international company meets an ambitious sustainability goal two years early. But last May, that’s exactly what happened at 119-year-old transportation logistics provider C.H. Robinson.

  • The goal under discussion: a company-wide reduction in intensity of Scope 1 and 2 emissions—those emissions generated by the company’s own operations—of 47% (more than the 40% targeted). C.H. Robinson had previously calculated meeting the objective by 2025.

Simple but effective: “Most of it was looking at where we could find inefficiencies” and correcting them, said C.H. Robinson Vice President of Environment, Social and Governance Rachel Schwalbach. Some changes came from suggestions “our own employees brought forward: LED lighting, responsible use” of electricity.

  • Efforts also included a marked increase in the company’s use of renewables generally. From 2019 to 2023, C.H. Robinson renewable-energy purchases rose 40%.

Not an either/or proposition: The Eden Prairie, Minnesota–based company—which solves logistics challenges for clients through freight forwarding and other innovative transportation solutions—is proof positive that businesses don’t have to choose between good environmental stewardship and profitability.

  • In fact, “sometimes the sustainable option is actually the less expensive option,” Schwalbach told the NAM. “C.H. Robinson is working with suppliers every day to drive out waste, and often that’s been because we’ve looked at it through a lens of cost savings or time reduction. Now it’s also through the lens of sustainability.”
  • What’s more, “if you’re approaching sustainability right, it should be tied to your overall business strategy. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure you’re compliant with rules and regulations” as you meet sustainability requirements.

A competitive advantage: Reducing the footprint of operations can be a competitive advantage for manufacturers, too.

  • “We get asked about sustainability by nearly all our stakeholders, so it really has to be a part of strategic decision making across the business,” Schwalbach continued. “Our shippers are also getting asked about [sustainability] by their investors and customers. People across the business are thinking about it, so it’s [to our advantage to] make sure it’s integrated across all areas.”

No business is an island: Businesses must keep in mind that sustainability is a shared interest, and the environment’s health is best served by teamwork, not isolated efforts, according to Schwalbach.

  • “As companies continue to put big [sustainability] goals out there, I cannot emphasize enough the need for collaboration across industries, as clichéd as it sounds,” Schwalbach said. “Having people who are willing to come to the table and say, ‘Hey, let’s figure this out together,’ is going to be pretty critical.”
  • For C.H. Robinson, that means engaging with customers, carriers and a broad range of other stakeholders.

Supporting climate-friendly practices: The right moves by policymakers can also help support the private sector’s sustainability efforts.

  • “As we’re looking increasingly at alternative fuels and electric vehicles here in the U.S., we need an electric grid that can support the transition to a lower-carbon economy,” Schwalbach said. “Continuing to invest in [strengthening] the grid will help us invest in the right technologies. We need to be able to move forward quickly in a way that doesn’t cause disruption to the supply chain and transportation.”
  • Companies want clarity around regulations, too. “There are so many [regulations] coming out right now, and companies want to know, ‘How do I get the right [climate-related] data? How do I make sure the data are accurate?’”

In for the long haul: So what’s next for C.H. Robinson? A continued focus on conservation, for one thing.

  • “You meet your goals, and that’s really exciting, but there’s no time to sit around,” Schwalbach said, adding that the company is now in the process of figuring out “what new sustainability goals will look like for carbon reduction.”
  • Ultimately, those goals will be met by ensuring a commitment to the environment remains a company-wide focus, she told us.
  • “Doing sustainability well means it’s integrated. C.H. Robinson is a 119-year-old company, and sustainability is about making sure we’re going to be successful for another 119 years.”
Press Releases

Manufacturers Mourn Passing of Former Association Leader Dirk Van Dongen

Washington, D.C. – Following the passing of Dirk Van Dongen, the former CEO of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Dirk Van Dongen was a Washington legend. For nearly half a century, he led the NAW to be a powerful convener of the business community, advocating for policies that made manufacturing in America more competitive in a global economy. But he was far more than the leader of a single association. He was revered as a respected dean of the association CEO community. I feel enormously grateful to have considered him a mentor and friend and to have received a few coveted invitations to join him at his table at his favorite D.C. bistro, Equinox.

“Dirk believed wholeheartedly in the power of free enterprise to make life better for everyone. He fought for sound tax policy and many shared priorities to enhance the competitiveness of manufacturing, as part of a larger mission to grow our industry and the U.S. economy. His ability to work with both sides of the aisle and get things done distinguished him as a business leader. Over and over again, Dirk proved why associations are indispensable voices in our society.

“Dirk’s best life lesson that he imparted effortlessly was to be honest, direct, upfront and authentic. You never had to wonder where Dirk stood or what he believed was the right course of action.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Maryann, and his daughters Rachel and Marisa during this difficult time.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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Energy Tax Credits to Be Expanded

Federal tax credits that have long been available for solar and wind energy projects may soon also be available for other renewables initiatives, such as nuclear fission and fusion (Reuters, subscription).

What’s going on: On Wednesday, “[t]he Treasury Department announced its guidance for Clean Electricity Production Credits and Clean Electricity Investment Credits, created under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, that will be available in 2025 as the previously available wind and solar production and investment tax credits sunset.”

  • The Biden administration’s proposal identifies several technologies that will be eligible for the credits, including nuclear fission and fusion, marine and hydrokinetic energy, hydropower and geothermal.
  • Public comments on the proposal will be accepted through Aug. 2, and a public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12 and 13 (Law360, subscription).

The NAM says: “Expanded eligibility for these tax credits is a key to getting more industries involved,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Michael Davin.

Press Releases

USTR’s WTO Lead Andrea Durkin to Lead NAM International Policy Team

NAM Advocates Global Trade Strategy That Will Open New Markets with Our Allies and Create Vast Opportunities for Manufacturers in the U.S.

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced that former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs Andrea Durkin is joining the NAM as the new vice president of international policy.

“Andrea brings a wealth of expertise to the job, with more than three decades of service in both the public and private sectors. As a leader in international trade negotiations, her deep understanding of international policy will enhance the NAM’s strategic objectives significantly as we continue to build off of successful engagements with our counterparts across Europe and the North American continent,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

“As manufacturers in America look for new ways to reach global markets and the 95% of customers that live outside the borders of the United States, Andrea is set to lead an ambitious expansion of the NAM’s international policy operation. She will work to uphold our commitment to shaping a global trade strategy that opens new markets with our allies and trading partners around the world, which, in turn, will create vast opportunities for manufacturers in the U.S. to create well-paying jobs, innovate and achieve new milestones in improving the quality of life for everyone.”

Durkin is one of the nation’s foremost experts on international policy, drawing from decades of experience serving in Democratic and Republican administrations. As a senior executive in the Office of the President, she led trade negotiations and U.S. policy at the WTO and was responsible for committees on industrial subsidies, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, trade facilitation, customs and others. She was also the U.S. senior official for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Trade Committee, G7 and G20 trade tracks.

In years prior, Durkin served in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, where she led a variety of negotiations, including free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere, sectoral initiatives in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and trade-related aspects of United Nations’ multilateral environment and public health agreements.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

NAM Publishes First-of-Its-Kind Report on Vast Potential of Artificial Intelligence for Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers released a first-of-its-kind report, “Working Smarter: How Manufacturers Are Using Artificial Intelligence,” detailing use cases for artificial intelligence in manufacturing and case studies of how manufacturers are already implementing AI technologies to strengthen America’s workforce, advance innovation and improve the quality of life for everyone.

The report provides an overview of insights from leading manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, Schneider Electric and Hitachi, on how AI can improve efficiency, product development, safety, predictive maintenance and supply chain logistics. The report also outlines a series of recommendations on how policymakers can help support the safe, responsible development of AI while promoting innovation and growth.

“So much of the media and policymaking conversation is focused on generative AI, but AI is far more than that for modern manufacturers,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “It’s infused increasingly throughout the shop floor, research and development and beyond. Manufacturers are leading the way in the use and development of new AI technologies. From developing more effective clinical trials and improving workplace safety to strengthening supply chain resiliency and supporting workforce training for employees, AI is unlocking new opportunities to strengthen our modern manufacturing workforce and improve the lives of all Americans. Congress and the Biden administration can support manufacturers’ adoption of AI by enacting strong data privacy protections, investing in workforce training and providing regulatory certainty.”

“All possible futures for modern manufacturing in the U.S. involve AI,” said Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer and NAM Board Chair Kathy Wengel. “Given the importance of this generational technology, policymakers must develop sensible, carefully thought-out frameworks for various AI applications—and they should lean on manufacturers’ years of experience to engineer those frameworks. We need a policy environment that supports innovation and growth in manufacturing AI, because it will bolster U.S. competitiveness and leadership in this critical emerging field.”

Policy recommendations include the following:

  • Invest in R&D and career technical education institutions that train the modern manufacturing workforce.
  • Enact federal privacy legislation that advances individuals’ privacy and provides legal clarity that supports continued innovation and competitiveness.
  • Employ a risk-based approach that tailors any new AI regulations—only if new regulations are necessary—to specific use cases and minimizes compliance burdens.
  • Ensure that regulatory frameworks are aligned globally to maintain U.S. global leadership. The more disparate the approach to AI around the world, the more time, energy and investment companies will need to spend navigating misalignments.

Learn more here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Input Stories

Russia’s Targeting of Ukrainian Energy Infrastructure Shows Need to Lift Ban


Russia’s missile attack on Ukraine last Saturday hit vital energy infrastructure, underscoring the need for the Biden administration to lift its more than three-month-old ban on U.S. liquefied natural gas export permits.

What’s going on: “The [missile] attack targeted ‘the power grid and the gas transit system, particularly the gas infrastructure that ensures the security of deliveries to the EU,’” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said (POLITICO Pro, subscription).

  • “Russia has intensified its assaults against Ukrainian power stations in recent weeks, and its missiles are now also hitting gas storage facilities that were used by some EU companies last winter to prevent energy shortages.”
  • The strikes also hit four thermal plants in Ukraine and injured a worker.

Why it’s important: “With Russia targeting energy supplies in Europe, it is critical that we lift the ban on LNG exports so the United States can fill any unexpected gaps,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Michael Davin. “Lifting the moratorium is a national and energy security issue.”

What Americans want: People in the U.S. overwhelmingly support natural gas exports, a recent NAM poll found, with 87% of respondents saying the U.S. should continue to export the energy source.

Input Stories

EPA Chemical Rule Will Add Delays, Costs for Manufacturers

a sign on the side of a building

The EPA recently finalized a rule that establishes a process for conducting risk evaluations for certain chemicals—but it will only hamstring U.S. manufacturing competitiveness if implemented, the NAM said this week.

What’s going on: In a final rule issued late last month under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA “will now consider exposure to chemicals in air and water and, when possible, combined risks from exposure to multiple chemicals” (Chemical & Engineering News).

  • “The [agency] will also consider risks to workers without assuming that they are wearing personal protective equipment [and] … chemical uses required for national security or critical infrastructure.”

Why it’s important: The final regulation will unnecessarily cost manufacturers in both time and money.

  • The “new TSCA risk evaluation rule adds too many additional barriers and requirements on manufacturers and risks creating de facto bans on chemistries essential to both existing technologies and the development of new innovative materials,” the NAM said Monday.
  • “Manufacturing relies heavily on new and existing chemicals, which are the building blocks of technologies that make modern life possible,” NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris told the agency last December. “To ensure continued access to the newest chemicals which can make essential technologies even more effective and efficient, TSCA should be administered in a manner that protects health and the environment while avoiding unnecessary adverse economic impacts on business enterprises.”

What should be done: The agency should revise the final rule, the NAM said.

Input Stories

NAM Stands Up for Biopharmaceutical Innovation Before Senate Hearing


In advance of a Senate hearing on health care costs, the NAM is ensuring that senators understand the importance of biopharmaceutical innovation to patients and the U.S. economy—and the damaging impact of policies that hinder drug development.

What’s happening: The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a subcommittee hearing today on whether harmful policies like price controls, compulsory licensing and weaker intellectual property protections for new medicines could reduce servicemembers’ health care costs.

NAM pushes back: The NAM is highlighting the extraordinary investment—in both time and capital—that it takes to bring a lifesaving treatment to market. According to the NAM:

  • The average cost of developing a new drug was $2.3 billion as of 2022;
  • Across the industry, biopharmaceutical manufacturers spent $139 billion on R&D in just 2022 alone;
  • It can take 10 to 15 years for a breakthrough scientific discovery to move through early-stage research, clinical trials, Food and Drug Administration approval and manufacturing; and
  • Only 12% of investigational drugs that enter a Phase I clinical trial ultimately receive FDA approval—to say nothing of the hundreds of discoveries that never make it into clinical trials.

Lifesaving impact: In 2023, the FDA approved a record-breaking 71 new medicines that will improve the lives of patients.

  • The biopharmaceutical industry behind these breakthroughs is also stimulating the U.S. economy: Biopharmaceutical manufacturers accounted for $355 billion in value-added output to the U.S. economy in 2021 and directly employed 291,000 workers in the U.S.

Innovation under threat: In recent years, biopharmaceutical manufacturers have been subject to harmful policies that will limit innovation and slow efforts to develop lifesaving medicines.

Read the full story here.

Input Stories

Return to Broadband Rules Will Harm Manufacturing Economy


The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to restore Obama-era broadband regulations—a move that is outside the agency’s remit and will erode investment in telecom infrastructure, the NAM said.

What’s going on: “The commission voted along party lines to finalize a proposal first advanced in October to reinstate open internet rules adopted in 2015 and reestablish the commission’s broadband authority” (Reuters, subscription).

  • The rules, repealed by the Trump administration in 2017, will reclassify broadband as a telecom service under a law originally passed in 1934. This change will subject 21st century high-speed internet to regulations designed for the era of the rotary phone.
  • The Biden administration has been seeking a return to the 2015 regulations since 2021, when the president signed an executive order urging the FCC to reinstate them.

Why it’s important: The resuscitated regulations will have a significant and negative impact on the U.S. economy, as historical evidence shows.

  • From 2011 to 2022, attempts to impose so-called “net neutrality” restrictions depressed telecom infrastructure investment by $8.1 billion each year, decreased employment by approximately 195,600 jobs and reduced gross domestic product by $145 billion annually (Phoenix Center).

Our view: “Ultimately, [the FCC]’s broadband regulations are a solution in search of a problem,” the NAM wrote in a social post. “The U.S. already has an open and fair internet. This is just the latest in a long line of decisions adding to the regulatory onslaught facing manufacturers in America.”

Input Stories

U.S. Birthrate Falls


The U.S. fertility rate is at record lows (The Wall Street Journal, subscription).

What’s going on: “The total fertility rate fell to 1.62 births per woman in 2023, a 2% decline from a year earlier, federal data released Thursday showed. It is the lowest rate recorded since the government began tracking it in the 1930s.”

  • The data reflect a continuing trend: American women, across ethnic groups, are delaying or foregoing having children.
  • In 2023, the number of U.S. births was the lowest in 44 years.

Why it’s happening: “A confluence of factors are at play. American women are having fewer children, later in life. Women are establishing fulfilling careers and have more access to contraception.”

  • As a group, they are also increasingly uncertain about their futures “and spending more of their income on homeownership, student debt and child care.”

The details: From 2022 to 2023, birthrates declined more among younger women.

  • “Women in their mid-to-late 30s are having children at similar rates to those in their early to mid-20s. Birthrates for women 35–39 fell to 54.7 births per 1,000 women—closer to the rates for women 20–24, which dropped 4% to 55.4 births per 1,000 women in 2023.”
  • Birthrates among women in their 40s stayed the same.

Why it’s important: Fewer U.S. births could reshape the economy and “other facets of American life.”

  • However, “[a]n influx of people immigrating to the U.S. could offset the impact of lower birthrates on the U.S. population’s size,” said Brady Hamilton, a co-author of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that includes the data findings. “Immigration has risen in recent years, easing labor shortages and expanding the population of big metropolitan areas.”

​​​​​​​Read more: For a comprehensive blueprint on U.S. immigration reform, download “A Way Forward,” the NAM’s recommendations to Congress on the subject.
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