Posts filed under ‘Climate Change’
The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission recently proposed installing global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices on motor vehicles to aid in taxing drivers for vehicle miles traveled (VMT). This proposal is part of a larger trend in how local governments fund transportation infrastructure and encourage people to change their driving habits.
As in most other states, California’s road repair and improvements have historically been funded from gasoline taxes at the federal and state level, which have then distributed the revenue to the local governments. Today, local governments are being asked to pay a larger share of the bill, even as the infrastructure ages and requires more repair.
In the Bay Area, the intent of the VMT is to generate revenues for road repairs and improvements.The basic premise seems sound: The more you use the roads, the more you should pay to build and maintain them. Policy-makers also expect that the financial incentive will encourage drivers to drive less and take public transportation, two environmentally supportive behaviors. This equitable approach has generally worked with fuel taxes (a convenient surrogate for miles traveled) and vehicle license fees. Initial public reaction to the VMT, however, has been very negative. Some attribute the reaction as a sign of bad policy while others speculate that the public is simply resistant to change and new taxation.
In Alameda County, lawmakers have proposed a ballot measure to make a one half cent sales tax permanent. Several counties across the country have similarly used the sales tax approach but historically these measures have a finite life and are brought back to voters every 10 to 20 years for reauthorization. The existing tax is used to fund transportation projects within the Bay Area county and greatly improved transportation and environmental conditions. The shift to a permanent tax represents a recognition that local governments will continue to carry a greater cost for their local transportation.
While tax increases and initiatives such as the VMT may be unpopular, hard times demand bold measures and local governments need to fund more of their own infrastructure. The evolution and debate on these public policy shifts will be interesting case studies for environmental professionals.
Will citizens accept the installation of GPS tracking devices in their vehicles so their mileage can be tracked and they can pay more taxes? Is this government intrusion to one’s right to privacy? How do you tax nonresidents when their enter MTC’s jurisdiction—toll booths? Should hybrids pay the same rate as SUVs? Does this interfere with interstate commerce? How will driving habits change as a result of this new tax and what are the unintended circumstances? How does government equitably distribution fiscal and environmental impacts and how do human react to more aggressive change?
Mark Posson is the former Director of Environment, Safety and Health at Lockheed Marin Space Systems Co. and a current instructor of environmental and sustainability management with the University of California Davis. He recently began offering consulting services to help organizations improve environment, safety and health performance.
We are told that our education, particularly our technical skills, will prepare us to succeed in a career in environment, health and safety (EHS) management. So back when I was working on my degree in Environmental Engineering, I was taught how to design, build and run projects. I developed technical skills as well as project management skills. And while these elements are certainly important to every EHS manager, one critical component tends to be left out of our schooling: the art of selling and marketing.
We know that EHS programs don’t succeed without senior management support. The consequences of not having this support — insufficient budgets, lack of assistance from other functional areas, conflicting priorities and unnecessary obstacles — can be devastating. But to gain this support, you must know how to sell your program.
I’m not talking about the ability to make cold calls or engage in business development activities, of course — I’m talking about selling a project, idea or program.
Marketing means engaging the company in a targeted fashion. What has sold your program or idea to senior management will often not be the same set of benefits that convince your facility managers or operators. Your strategy needs to address all impacted “customers.”
Because selling and marketing are such critical components, it is important that you take the time during your program design process to plan how you will sell and market it. Put together an internal marketing plan that addresses the implementation strategy and the tactics you will use to promote that strategy. A good marketing plan is like a game plan: It serves as a guide for the actions you need to take, but also provides some flexibility to shift tactics to address any issues that may arise.
Here are a few tips for selling and marketing your EHS program that you should consider when developing your internal marketing plan. (And don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from your marketing people!)
- Understand your company: You need to know your company’s goals and how it makes money. Simply knowing its EHS issues is insufficient; you need to understand your company’s position in the market.
- Lead with your strength: Define the biggest or broadest benefit of your program and lead with that. Keep the message simple and consistent.
- Develop the program “brand”: All successful programs have a common language, look and feel, regardless of where they are implemented in the company. Develop talking points that provide a quick and easy summary of the program to keep everyone focused on the key goals.
- Identify your best customers: If you can identify and engage those who will gain the most from the new program, they can help you sell it. Listen to the “voice of the customer” (or voice of the employee) and use their words to engage them and get them excited about the new program.
- Know your competition: There will be other programs that will compete for time and money. You need to have a plan to address these challenges and convince detractors that they can also gain from your program.
What other strategies have you used to effectively introduce new EHS programs in your company?
Kelvin Roth is President of the NAEM Board of Directors and the Director of Environment, Health & Safety for AMCOL International Corp.
This week NAEM’s Upper Midwest Local Networking Group met to discuss regional water management challenges and to explore best practices from around the world. We caught up with speaker David Crisman, Principal of EHS Management Associate LLC, to learn about his research on water management approaches in Australia.
GT: Why did you begin research water management approaches in Australia?
DC: In the case of Australia, what has been the most fascinating to me is the Murray-Darling River Basin. It’s 14 percent of the country area-wide, six percent of the water that falls on Australia falls in the basin. It’s something like half of all the agriculture comes from the basin. Just to give you an idea, 44 percent of the water consumed in Australia goes to agriculture, so you’ve got fairly substantial land area, not so big of an input (because the only input is rain) and a huge water take. And now even in a good year less than half of the water makes it to the ocean. So it’s like our Colorado River.
In Australia, the individual states control resources, so the federal government said, “Wait a second. We’ve got three major states drawing water and as the federal government, we need to say what is the environmental water needed just so it makes it to the ocean so we have aquatic habitat, we have tourism, we have those benefits that we don’t normally think about, rather than throwing it on a rice field.
I thought this was a really good example to look at because as industry people, we don’t think of water coming in; our requirements are always on the water going out. And in the industry, I used to work in (specialty chemicals), water quality was important. If you start taking too much water out of this area, you start having saline problems, you start having acidification problems. Even if I had a plant in this area, you could be saying, “Is it drinkable?” but also, “Is it even useful in a manufacturing setting?” We don’t think of the upstream side. We think of the wastewater side.
So I was really trying to get into that particular issue by taking a look at Murray Darling. I think the cutting-edge thought was what they came up with, which was to create a water market. They said, “The Basin has a finite amount of water and we’ve got to balance this whole water usage and it doesn’t matter if you’re taking it from a well or you’re taking it directly from the river, we’ve got to figure out that balance. It’s a commodity, there’s going to be years it’s in surplus, years that it’s deficient, so how do we, as Australia, buy water to lower the allocation within the Basin so there’s enough water for fish, for flow and all those other things?”
It’s a good technical problem.
GT: What are some of the guidelines of the water market Australia established?
DC: There’s permanent trades that going on – I can actually sell you my rights as a property owner—and there are allocation trades—I can sell you my annual take because it’s low this year. So if the tomato farmer decides it’s more worth his while to sell his allocation this year, he can give it to the guy who owns the vineyard. So what is the value of water? There are also regulations in place to ensure that the way you use the water on your land doesn’t impact others. So the legal framework is critical, too.
GT: How can those lessons be applied to water management in the Upper Midwest region?
DC: Everything has a yin and a yang. So the fact that we have constant supply is really great. We may never think about water coming into a facility, but when we turn the tap, we will have water. The negative is ‘Have I really been thinking of the cost?’ And will that price for water increase? And will it become a variable cost for me? Meaning that one year I will pay x, but two years later it may be 5x or something more. For businesses, it’s probably easier to plan on price than to deal with a disruption. So that’s probably an overall positive.
The next thing is quality. If I can get to a consistent quality grade it’s going to mean less disruption, less upset for my manufacturing process. But that again boils down to price. And then you start to see intangible benefits and impacts. People can’t come to work because their neighborhood is on fire. If you can have consistent supply, you can perhaps deal with drought situations. And of course there are lifestyle impacts in Australia because if you look up Australian water restrictions online you’ll see pages of instructions of when you can water your lawn, do your laundry. That’s at a more personal level but it could reach industry as well.
GT: How close do you think we are to seeing some of the approaches being used in Australia to be applied to the U.S.?
DC: It’s hard to say because it sometimes seems like if we want to focus on an issue, we need to have a crisis. Last year we were dealing with too much water. I think the question of quantity has to be driven by a drought. And certainly the Texas situation if it continues may end up pushing a lot of buttons because those Great Lakes look awfully tempting.
David Crisman is the Principal at EHS Management Associate. As the former EHS Director for a global, specialty chemical company, he is well-aware of the challenges facing today’s EHS managers. He continues to study trends to deal with water supply and quality issues throughout the world.
To learn more about NAEM’s Upper Midwest Local Networking Group, please visit http://www.naem.org/?LNG_Upper_Midwest
Recently I had the opportunity to use a Nissan Leaf™ for several full days, a much more interesting exercise than a simple test drive. As someone working in the sustainability area, as a co-chair of the California Clean Cars campaign and as a likely car buyer in 2012 (my current vehicle has over 230,000 miles on it) I am very interested in the electric vehicle (EV) market.
Nissan’s Leaf™ is among the handful of low emission cars that are presently authorized to carry a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker, entitling a single occupant to use the carpool lanes during rush hours – a very nice side benefit to EV ownership that helped speed my commute this week.
My general impression of EV driving is very favorable. This particular model is roomy, it has all the bells and whistles (bluetooth, navigation, backup camera, etc.) and most importantly, it really drives well. Acceleration, handling and power are all indistinguishable from a gas powered vehicle.
The only issue I’ve had this week is the one that continues to slow down growth in the EV market, namely range anxiety and ease of recharging. I have been charging the vehicle at home and at work using conventional 120v outlets and while the process is simple and easy, it certainly takes a while, e.g. 11 hours to get a full charge last night.
When I left my home the range indicator read “100 miles”, but 35 miles of highway driving depleted that amount to 42. In other words, at 60+ miles per hour, a 35 mile trip used up 58 miles of driving range. Keep in mind, I tried to use the EV just like I use my current one, driving as fast as usual as opposed to crawling along in the slow lane just to conserve the charge. With the indicator staring at you the entire time, you also start thinking about all of the devices that consume electricity in the car, such as the lights, the radio, and the seat warmers and so on. Since I want a fully functional vehicle, the notion of driving around in a dark, cold vehicle is not a selling point.
My conclusions: I love just about everything in the EV experience other than the limitations on range. If the car had a 200-mile range, I would be placing an order tomorrow. Until batteries are improved, however, fast charging 240v stations are essential and the buyers for whom EVs work perfectly may be limited. By the way, Applied Materials is among the companies working to address some of the battery issues. It will also be exciting to see a whole slew of new EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) in 2012.
Bruce Klafter is head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Applied Materials, Inc. and leads the effort to fulfill the company’s commitment to sustainability in the design and implementation of business strategies and worldwide operations.