Revere pans NY energy proposals

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Revere Copper Products is coming out against two state proposals aimed at limiting industrial pollution.

The Rome-based manufacturer held a press conference this morning with representatives from the Business Council of New York State, the Manufacturer's Association of Central New York (MACNY), and the UAW Local 2367, which represents workers at the plant.

The legislation in question calls for a complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, and mandates that 70 percent of electricity be renewably sourced by 2030.

Brian O'Shaughnessy, chairman of Revere, said that the legislation would increase energy costs, a large portion of the company's operating expense in an already competitive manfacturing environment.

"Melting and casting and rolling (copper) takes a tremendous amount of energy. Energy is a very important part of our costs," O'Shaughnessy explained.

"The biggest issue where we have to fight costs on competition is energy. Energy costs are critical to the continued success of our business and the continued generation of cash flow."

He continued: "Increases in energy cost reduce that cash flow, reduce the amount of money that we can spend on capital equipment," adding that it's already "difficult in New York State to compete."

"We're not taking a stance here — please understand — about the whole issue of renewable energy and so on. What we believe is that manufacturing should be at the table when these issues are being discussed by the legislature, and we're not."

O'Shaughnessy contends that in terms of total global emissions, laws that seek to limit emissions by American firms are still a net loss.

"... If you're only looking at it from an environmental point of view, the production that isn't made here is going to be made, because there's a demand for it in the world, and it's going to be made somewhere where the carbon emissions per pound of product produced are a multiple of what it is here."

Union chairman Brian Wiggins said he felt the legislation did not consider the impact on Revere's workers and auxiliary industries.

"Uncontrollable energy costs have a direct impact on jobs that my members come to work every day and work" Wiggins said.

"Without some kind of insight to how this impacts each and every one of those people, legislation that goes through like this is not fair. It can hurt us financially, it can hurt the economic climate of the area, and it's a downturn for everbody here in Central New York."

Darren Suarez, the Senior Director of Government Affairs at the Business Council, said that other states with similar laws targeting carbon emissions had conceded some input to industrial interests, and that manufacturers in New York are seeking the same.

"Specifically what we're looking for is a manufacturer's working group, and most other carbon greenhouse has emission programs have had those — whether in California, Washington, or Oregon ... all of them have appreciated the specific, unique nature that manufacturer's have had, and they've included a working group ... to evaluate how you're impacting manufacturers and try to mitigate impacts on those energy intensive companies," Suarez said via conference call.

A working group, he argues, could "ensure that (manufacturers) continue to stay here, the jobs stay here, and quite honestly that less emissions stay here."

Randy Wolken of MACNY, an organization he said represents "over 330 manufacturing and other businesses" across 26 counties, echoed O'Saughnessy's call for industrial input on clean energy legislation.

"We think this kind of legislation needs to be thoughtful. It also has to include the voices of those businesses, specifically those energy intensive businesses, at the table," Wolken said.

The legisation, he added, "could have a rather severe economic impact if implemented without a focus on making sure that we preserve these kind of industries in upstate New York."

Revere, MACNY and the Business Council believe that the legislation will meet approval by lawmakers in Albany. "Oh, it's going to get passed — there's no brakes," O'Shaughnessy said.

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